COVID-19 restrictions ensured no students were allowed on the Saugus High School campus yesterday. It was the one year anniversary of the tragic school shooting that took the lives of two students, Gracie Muehlberger and Dominic Blackwell, injured several more, and left the entire Saugus and Santa Clarita community scarred. Some students left flowers and stuffed animals at the entry to the gate. Each of my children wanted to commemorate it in their own way. Micah wanted to re-walk the path she took as she ran away from the shooter that morning.
Micah was understandably confused by the sounds of gunfire in the Saugus Quad where she had just finished putting on her shoes. She saw scared students begin to run past her, then swung around to view a boy, a boy she recognized, pointing a gun at fellow students. She then watched the shooter pull the trigger and fire the third of six shots before she too turned to run off the campus.
Along the way she ran into another girl who was panicking and helped her get focused enough to run with her up Centurion Way toward a small park. She called her mom. She tried to contact her brother, Zachariah, and sister, Samara, both of whom were still on the campus. She recalls how worried she was for them and also how she tried to keep her friend calm at the same time. They had no way of knowing the shooter had already shot himself with his final bullet. That was the scene one year ago.
Yesterday, the scene was different. She walked that same route hand-in-hand with her mom, allowing herself to feel those moments. She then sat on the corner where we found her that morning and recalled the details of a tragic event we all wish had never happened.
It’s amazing how much Micah has grown over the course of this historic and exceedingly odd past year. Most of her nightmares are gone now. She no longer sees the shooter in every crowd. But the memory of that day will never leave.
Nobody expects them to leave. All we could possibly have hoped for was that she learn how to cope with the memory, learn how to share her emotions openly and honestly, learn how to face them head-on, and to learn how to grow from the experience.
Thankfully, we got what we hoped for. And we are indeed so very thankful because we know some have not been as fortunate.
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