As one of the millions of Americans that have heard about but not directly affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary this past Friday, I struggled to understand and comprehend the viciousness, the stark evil of this event. It’s not the first, nor the last, nor the greatest tragedy that has ever happened, but it is a calamity all the same.

I decided to do something in tribute to the victims of the shooting, not anything extravagant, simply writing their names on my forearm, which I do as a reminder of anything important. I thought it would be my pause, my moment of silence, something I could do to get on with my life. And so I began to write.

Twenty six. I wrote twenty six names on my arms.

But they weren’t names. Each name had a story. What did Emilie want for Christmas? Was Benjamin looking forward to Christmas just weeks away? Did Victoria have weekend plans with her family?

Each name was a person, each person a story, each story had been written with an ending that nobody could have ever seen coming.

I knew none of these people. And yet I felt like they were my little sister, my teacher, my best friend.

This post is unusual for me. I’m not going to go into gun control or prayer in schools or any kind of opinion thing. Now is not the time, or the place. Before we start looking at the numbers, let’s remember the names. Before we start pointing fingers, let’s extend our hands. Before we try to debate the past or argue about the future, let’s find community and unity in the present.

Rest in peace, you beautiful, twenty six daughters, sons, friends, cousins, sisters, brothers, and children of God. Thank you for gracing us with your presence for the time you did. You will be missed and never forgotten.

xoxo, Jen

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