Last Saturday, I ran the Beardsley Beast 5k in honor of Emilie Parker. And it was at this race, on that day that I had tucked away especially for Emilie, that I was reminded of the ever lasting spirit and endurance of a child. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
There was a little girl at this race- she couldn't have been more than five years old. Six. MAYBE. And she captured my heart and made it ache just a fraction less for the children of Sandy Hook elementary. Both those that we lost and those that we saved.
You see, this little girl, this tiny person, ran an entire 5k. And not just a 5k. It was one of the hardest 5k's that I've run so far. Half street running, half trail/hills. She ran it on those tiny legs. She never quit. She never gave up. And she hustled to the finish line with more spunk and determination than I've seen on most adults. She was a much needed reminder that children bounce back. That they persevere and overcome. And that same spirit would never be lost in the next life.
As I watched this little girl pick up speed as she raced to the finish line, when she was visibly exhausted and physically spent, I was overcome with emotion and I was holding back tears. This tiny reminder that if you put an obstacle in a child's way, they will find a way to overcome it. They will find the path to victory and they will show you that what you thought can't be done, will be done.
It was from that, that my mind started to race. That I started thinking about all these children that were in Sandy Hook that day. How will this shape their lives? And that's the question, isn't it? What parent of Sandy Hook Elementary isn't thinking, "what are the repercussions of this tragedy going to be long term for my child?" As a parent, you couldn't help but worry. But, for the first time since December 14th, I have rejoiced in the knowledge that these children are going to take this and make themselves stronger. They are going to make our community stronger. And I fully and wholeheartedly believe that they will take what they have experienced here and make the world a better place, each and every day that they are in it.
These children have experienced something that most of us will never know. Thank goodness. But that horrific life experience will become something positive. They will make it so- because that's what children do. They take a road block and the beat it to the ground. They tell their parents they want to run a 5k and they crush it. Even if the parent is sure in the back of their mind that they will never be able to complete it. Mark my words. The children coming out of Sandy Hook Elementary/Chalk Hill Elementary (their now school) are going to change this world for the better.
I can't wait to watch them thrive. I can't wait to watch them succeed. I want to see them on tv passing legislation 30 years from now that will make this world a safer place. I can't wait to sign up to volunteer for their community action plans. I can't wait to cheer them on as they bravely step foot back into their rebuilt school on the old Sandy Hook Elementary grounds.
Miss Emilie has two beautiful sisters. Just you wait. They are going to make sure that Emilie is never forgotten. They are going to live for her every single day. And Emilie Parker is going to be watching from the clouds, cheering them on, every step of the way.
Here is the beautiful Miss Emilie Parker. The 9th angel that I have now run for: