In light of the heinous shooting and murder of 17 innocent student and faculty members, I decided to share my own connection to the Parkland shooting. Florida seems so far away from Lake Forest, but it has hit very close to home in my case. One of my childhood best friends from Connecticut moved to a seemingly quiet town in Florida at the end of her junior year.
As expected, we slowly grew apart, but still kept in contact over the past year. I don’t think the feeling of fear that I was overcome with on February 14 is even describable. I was getting phone calls from friends panting in fear, interrogating me, hoping to acquire insight on the subject matter at hand, her life. They thought I would be the first that she’d call. They were wrong.
I had no way of knowing what was going on. I was clueless until they called and described to me the images and videos on her Snapchat story. They were so gruesome I could not fathom the emotional toll it would take on this fragile human life I knew all too well. I didn’t know what was happening in her life, so I watched through the public eye and waited for her to reach out. The worst part was that she went dark. I called over and over again, no answer. I was afraid and my fear took over my logical reasoning. I didn’t know what happened after those videos were posted, but I could safely assume she was okay. Before the world knew who the victims were, I imagined flying down to her house for the first time, not meeting her, but rather her family who only showed expressions of despondence.
That night was terrible, I abruptly woke up due to night terrors, waking up in sweat, panting, heart racing and a deafening headache dawning over me. It was horrific. On the 15th, I saw her younger sister’s post on Instagram. She was talking about her best friend, Alyssa, reminiscing on her very last memory of them together. It was heartbreaking knowing her little sister was hurting so much, but finally knowing they were safe was a breath of fresh air after mild suffocation. Still no sign from my friend though. Finally, on the 16, I got a text back.
“Yes I’m ok, ty. (heart emoji) Miss you too.” This text was then followed by a FaceTime call consisting of tears and apology. She was stronger now, I could tell. The next day I viewed her Instagram story. She was sending love to her friend and fellow classmate Meadow; she was sending love to her school; and she was sending a message to the world. She and her schoolmates are now remaining “Parkland Strong” and becoming the platform for change in today’s society.
Although this massacre has affected me personally, I cannot begin to imagine the families of the people who lost loved ones in the calamity. My best friend is still here, and there are people who cannot say as much. These students now live in a community where tragedy has struck, and each and every individual affected on a deeper level than us “viewers” cannot understand. Families were torn apart, left never again to see their cousin, sister, brother, son or daughter. We can only listen to the words of these gun violence protesters and try to discern the severity of this issue and make meaning of it in our own lives.