An anniversary to remember — and families to keep in our prayers
The holidays are here and for many it is a time to reminisce. But for many more, the memories from the past year will be bittersweet. This month, we are looking at an anniversary that is not something to celebrate.
Life as we knew it in our community changed forever on Dec. 7, 2017 (“In Santa Fe schools, educators and students face unsettling reality,” Dec. 8, 2017). As in the days following 9/11, we all came together to give comfort to each other. We hugged, we cried, and we swore that this would never happen again. And here it is, one year later.
This day did not just affect the families of the children who were murdered, nor the teachers, staff and children who were at Aztec High School. The tragedy affected everyone who waited, worried and watched as our safe little community fell crashing down around us.
We were suddenly all part of the same family. People in Farmington, Bloomfield, Kirtland and Shiprock went from being separate towns to forming a bond of solidarity during this time of confusion and sadness. We saw our children in the faces of those who died. Custodians and substitute teachers became heroes when we least expected it. And our children lost their innocence as they fought to make logic out of something that didn’t make sense.
And we all changed.
As I wept with my colleagues over the tragic loss of two young lives, I secretly hoped that I would never have to feel the pain of losing a child. My children and grandchildren went to Aztec schools. We knew the people, the children, the staff and the teachers. And then 10 days later, the unthinkable happened as my own daughter unexpectedly died. Suddenly, right before the holidays, I was thrust into the club of parents who lost their children.
The shock of two horrible events so close were earth shattering. During this terrible time, the wonderful people at Park Avenue Elementary School rallied together, embracing my granddaughter and my family to show that they cared, and it meant the world to us.
My heart breaks for those who have suffered great losses; the loss of a child, the loss of a parent or in the case of Aztec, the loss of innocence in a small community.
During this time, I try hard not to focus on remembering the losses but on remembering how many good people there are in the world whose compassion and courage help ease our pain. The people who comforted us and helped us to stand up when we felt like falling down. Without those people, we would be lost.
I just want to say that I appreciate all of you.
Cheryl Trujillo lives in Flora Vista. She is currently caring full time for her severely autistic granddaughter after the death of her daughter in December 2017.