Triumph Over Tragedy:

Dear Amy Op-Ed

Author: Amy Kenny

Dear Ms. Kenny (letter to myself on February 14, 2018),

As the second anniversary of this tragic day approaches, you will find it hard to believe that two whole years have passed since the shooting. Two years since 17 innocent lives were taken. Two years since the foundation was cracked in the lives of many. Two years since the chaos.  Two years of pain and healing.   Some days will pass quickly, like yesterday, while some days will feel like time stands still, and some days the tragedy will feel distant, far back in the past.

The weeks and days leading up to the two-year anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will be filled with sadness and anxiety.  You will see it in yourself, your fellow teachers, the families and friends of the victims, and in your students.  Valentine’s Day decorations will activate the memories and the feelings, stirring up the emotions deep within of extreme pain and loss. Love is sadly not the first thing you will feel whenever the holiday approaches.

In the wake of the shooting, many resources will come to your aid, but you will be too overwhelmed, and it will be impossible to find the right next steps for healing.

In the first year, you will be frozen and in full survival mode. You will try your best to comfort the students, and you will. Yoga practice and meditation will help you tremendously in the days, weeks, and months after the tragedy, and you’ll work with many organizations and families, sharing your passion for yoga and meditation.  Your strength and courage to help others heal will help countless others and ease their own trauma symptoms.   Yoga will save you over and over again, but, some days, even yoga will not be enough.  You will be focused on the outward and will neglect your own inward healing.

Some days, the “happy and light” version of you will peek out, and you will feel “normal” again.  Then there are days when the raw emotions will be right at the surface and your new “normal” includes anger, fogginess, lack of motivation, sadness, and inevitably, the tears come.  It’s ok.  You will find out later that these feelings are all normal parts of the grief process, even though they do not feel normal when you are going through it. 

As time passes and you start to slow down. You need to take time to heal, and to find the new you.  You will never have the old you back, so dedicate yourself to finding the best version of you, now.

You’ll be asked to join The Onsite Foundation’s Survivor Advisory Council to assist in curating a trauma-informed workshop titled “Triumph Over Tragedy” for survivors of mass shootings.  You will say yes and not let the fear of the unknown stop you from pursuing emotional freedom for yourself.  You deserve time to heal.

The work you will do there will help you understand how much pain you still have trapped inside and the weight you have been carrying this whole time.  The healing work of the program will uncover the deep trauma from the shooting, as well as other life traumas that you carry from your past.  You’ll meet other survivors and find that healing happens best in community.  Go easy, be gentle with yourself, lean in, and give love.

Today, February 14, 2020, you will be filled with a peace and a hope for the future that you have not had since Feb 14, 2018.  Every day, you will find some parts of you that were lost.  Today, you are a new, more resilient and stronger version of yourself, that you did not even know existed. There is hope and healing.

In Loving Memory Of:

Alyssa Alhadeff

Scott Beigel

Martin Duque

Nicholas Dworet

Aaron Feis

Jaime Guttenberg

Chris Hixon

Luke Hoyer

Cara Loughran

Gina Montalto

Joaquin Oliver

Alaina Petty

Meadow Pollack

Helena Ramsay

Alex Schachter

Carmen Schentrup

Peter Wang


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