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Sixteen Years

Sixteen years.

It’s been sixteen years since my heart sank to the ground in a seventh grade classroom.

Since I watched the bright sky turn smoky gray and black.

Since I felt completely empty and numb… yet filled with grief and anger.

Sixteen years since you walked into our house, carrying a suitcase touched by dust, ash and death.

Told us how much you loved us, held us with strength and sadness.

Sixteen years since I walked hallways and felt like an alien, as if I was covered in slime and scales.

Sharp eyes and snarling mouthes, watching my movements, picking apart my humanity.

Sixteen years since I started to scan the headlines, read the tickers, paid attention.

Sixteen years since I had to grow up faster than I wanted to and rougher than I ever could have imagined.

Sixteen years later, I am strong, determined, passionate and fierce.

Sixteen years later, I am sad, angry, confused and hurt.

I cry if I see those terrifying dark skies on television. I shake at the mention of its date.

Sixteen years later, I am aware and present. I discuss and talk and learn and listen.

Sixteen years, and I’ve followed a path to inform and help them understand.

My body tightens at their words, and my heart helps it loosen.

Sixteen years later and they’re making the same mistakes. The headlines are flashbacks, nothing new.

He’s only discussed it a few times in sixteen years. I saw tears once. Never again.

Sixteen years later, I walk cold halls and see fallen walls.

I hear water trickle and flow. I close my eyes to hear its movement and progress.

Sixteen years later, and I am broken. We’re trying, but we’re broken.

I cry every time I see those skies.

Sixteen years and I cry every… single… time.

Sixteen years from now, I’ll still be mad… but I’ll know more.

A little one will sit with me… I’ll tell them about that date.

My heart will burn.

Sixteen years from now, I’ll hold hands.

We’ll try to learn, we’ll try to move on.

 

The skies will be blue.


Photo Credits: Ryan Loughlin, Khara Woods | Unsplash

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