Science

Sandy Hook shooting survivor, now 18, looks back 10 years after the massacre

Wednesday marked 10 years since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 people dead, including 20 children.

Isaiah Marquez-Green was just 8 years old when he survived the shooting. His sister Ana Grace Márquez-Green was among those killed.

Now an 18-year-old, Isaiah shares a moving note to his younger self about the loss of his life in the “CBS Morning” series Note to Self.


Dear Isaiah,

you are eight years old You are the light in the eyes of your mother, father and your sister. You were not born in a rich family, but you have a rich family history. You are a proud descendant of enslaved people. Your parents teach you a lot about your Puerto Rican and Black heritage. You are surrounded by family and friends in Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United States. Isaiah, when I look at you, I see a smart, funny young kid who loves hockey, Star Wars, sharks, Legos, and God. Hold on to the lessons you learn from it; You will desperately need them.

You have lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba for three years. Your father got an exciting job there as a music teacher. But in the summer of 2012, you’ll be leaving Winnipeg and headed back home to Connecticut. On a cold, dreary morning a few weeks before Christmas, your best friend, your 6-year-old sister Anna, is found murdered at Sandy Hook School. You, Isaiah, will somehow escape the building. But once you’re out, you’re all going to need a lot of help. Your friends from Canada and SHS will be the first to arrive. They will come to play with you so that you are not alone. You’ll fly to Los Angeles for a Kings hockey game. You’ll meet Stevie Wonder and he’ll dedicate a song to Ana in the middle of Madison Square Garden. You’ll still need to make your bed. And study diligently. You can take comfort in this, even on days when your parents don’t want to get up—they will get up for you.

Isaiah, that would be awful, but you would be much more than a Sandy Hook shooting survivor. Your parents will let you be a kid but will insist you to be a kid to dream big. You’ll still love music and play hockey. You’ll also find your voice when you speak with Bernice King and earn a spot at one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country. While there, you will become a student leader, a role earned by only 12 students in the senior class. You will be fluent in Spanish. When you are older, you may want to practice law to help children and families like yours.

The Sandy Hook school shooting will change your life. You’ll go from a loving big brother with a 24/7 sidekick to an only child in under ten minutes. And I won’t lie, it will leave you alone and it will never stop hurting. However, you will prevail. Imagining who she would be if she were still here will keep her alive in your heart because you knew her better than anyone else. This is what will help you through your most difficult moments.

Remember that time Ana played “Come Thou Almighty King” on the piano? Remember how she sat next to you on that bench, and you played like you had all the time in the world?

Hold fast to these memories, Isaiah, because soon they will be some of the only memories you have of your sister.

As you grow and deal with your loss, one of the biggest struggles you will face will be telling others about it. In fact, sometimes you’ll want to tell new people you’re just a kid when they ask. You will still think of Ana all the time, but any words you have to say about her will not be able to come out of your mouth. Don’t feel bad about it.

One day you will start realizing that there is another way you can keep her alive, that is through your words about her. The words will come. You will learn that by keeping him alive, you are drawing attention to all the people who have lost their lives due to gun violence and the inaction of our nation’s leaders.

One day you will not be eight years old. You’ll have one life to sort out. You have to decide what kind of person you want to be, even if you have pain. You also have to use wisdom in choosing the company you keep. But in youth you will be blessed by good friends. Friends who will be with you in difficult times.

Even at the age of 18, you never know where life will take you. But you must always remember that you have a community: your friends, your family, your god, and your sister, who is still sitting next to you on the piano bench.

One day you will be sitting where I am – waiting to hear from colleges. You’ll be a Sandy Hook survivor — but you’ll also be a regular kid. You will be ready to start your adult life and meet new friends. When appropriate, you will tell them about the sister who sang while you played the piano.

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