My birthday is December 10 and my best friend’s is December 11, the same as yours. I can’t imagine not having her here to celebrate my birthday with and I know your family is probably looking at your 8th birthday without you with sadness and longing to have you here.
It says so much that your family nicknamed you Joey from your more formal name of Josephine–my dad did the same for me as a toddler–from Pauline to Paula. I love the nickname Joey–I wish I had known you personally. However, your pictures say a lot about you.
Your precious smile, your contagious enthusiasm for life and your eager willingness to play and be silly will always be missed. But is it exactly those things that will also sustain the ones who love you and wish you were with them today. You made your family smile. You made your family laugh. And you made their hearts full when you hugged them and shared your love with them.
I am so incredibly sorry your life was cut short. I also know you are in a loving, giving, wonderful home now where you are being taken care of with care and grace. Your family’s sorrow may last a long time, but their love–and yours for them–will last forever. Love transcends all.
The strength of everyone involved in the Sandy Hook tragedy has impacted the world. Teachers (and I am one) now look at our classrooms differently. (Where would my children be safer? What would/could/should I do to keep them safe? How can I keep them safe?) I keep my classroom door locked. I talk with my children about strangers more and the importance of following OUR safety procedures.
But I also make sure that worry does not permeate our lives–because I want to see the smiles on their faces like the one on yours in your pictures. I want them to be enthusiastic about life and all it has to offer, as you were. I want them to play and be silly and enjoy the laughter and love of those around them as you did. You see, you–and your friends–and your family and other families of Sandy Hook inspire those of us who are left. The pain, fear and incredible sadness you all had to endure was way more than any one should have to overcome, especially at such a young age.
But your legacy is to leave the rest of us with determination to be like the Sandy Hook community–to be brave, stoic, and strong in the face of adversity. Your legacy is inspiration to make each moment count and live, love and laugh to the fullest of each moment we have. Your legacy is a promise of strength, connecting and sharing to survive together.
Your legacy–that you left to each and every other person in the world–is hope. And I thank you and your family for that precious gift. May God bless you all.