Dear Claire Davis, of blessed memory:
You were a blossoming, beautiful, caring high school student, but, shockingly, no longer.
It might well seem that none of us cannot even respond with, “at least.”
“At least you died in the line of duty.”
Or, “at least you gave your life so that someone else might live.”
Or, “at least you gave your life for your country.”
Or, “at least you died for a cause you loved.”
Or, “at least you died doing what you enjoyed most.”
Or, “at least your death has advanced medicine’s understanding of a fatal disease.”
After you sustained what turned out to be a fatal wound, how devoutly we may have wished we could say at least in these customary ways of responding to tragedy. However much we wish we could say at least in these ways, we cannot. Our grief is unmitigated.
Your brutal murderer — the student who inexplicably shot you in Arapahoe High School on Friday, December 13 — took your life in a way that, by the eternal limitations on our human understanding, only seems senseless.
You seemed to have such a promising future already unfolding in front of you.
And yet . . . and yet.
As we attempt, ever so painfully and unself-confidently, to locate the merest inkling of consolation or meaning in your death, the truth is — if we are strong enough to face it — we can, in fact, say, at least.
We can say:
At least, you leave behind beautiful memories. You leave them for your friends and teachers and, of course, for your unfathomably grieving family.
Thank you, Claire, for the shimmering memories.
At least, you leave behind what, in fact, all of us — whenever we are destined to leave this mortal coil — want to leave behind: a good name.
Thank you, Claire, for the sterling example.
At least, you leave behind a vital lesson, which no person alive can say that he or she does not need to be reminded of, day by day: Be grateful for every moment.
Thank you, Claire, for the salient lesson; though how we wish it could have echoed across our city some other way.
At least, you intensify the imperative that falls on both police and school principals: Plan better. Think harder. Train better. Make sure that this can never, ever, happen to anyone else.
Thank you, Claire, for sharpening this essential imperative.
At least, you leave behind the eternal memory of your loving smile that can never be clouded or compromised.
Thank you, Claire, for only the best, only the purest, only the sweetest, to remember you by. These shall be your children for all generations.
At least, Claire, amidst our grief, our questions, our empathy, our daze and our disbelief, we can say: Thank you, Claire Davis, for having lived.
Thank you for teaching us so well, so profoundly, so transparently, so unforgettably.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News