If I had…If they had…I shouldn’t have…They shouldn’t have…We could have…

For two days I was mad. I was mad at God. I was mad at myself. I was mad at you.

It hurt so much! I just wanted to stop thinking about it. I felt selfish for wanting emotional support when others were suffering so much more. I needed the comfort of strangers almost as much as that of loved ones.

Your pain, expressed through your anger, was piercing. I worried about what would happen next. Would anything good really come of it? Or would we just tear each other apart? Would we crumble under the spotlight that is focused on our little town? Exactly HOW do we move forward? I ached for those whom I’d previously attacked and wished I’d never become involved. I wanted to retreat back into my old life and just let you handle it.

And then, you reached out to me. You didn’t really know me, but you reached out nonetheless. Even though my tears continued to flow, I started to feel my pain retreat, if just a little. I began to think of how I’m connected to people I’ve never met and how one instant in time can bring about bonds I never imagined possible.

But I still don’t know you or what you have done or what you want to do. Why is that? How could that be when I spend so much time trying to learn about you and our shared concerns? If I do come to know you, will my hope resurge? Will I do things differently because I know how much you really care?

I hope to meet you someday. Even more, I hope to know and work with you to honor Ashley’s memory together in love. Maybe we can encourage one another to stay vigilant about our kids’ safety many years after the pain subsides.

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