One December morning when I was 14 years old, my dad kissed us goodbye and left for work. I was sitting at my desk waiting to start my first lesson of the day when suddenly he walked back through the door. His face was pale and there was a look in his eye that told me something was very wrong.
"Sharla, where do your friends from Paducah go to high school?"
He was referring to my "church camp" friends. When you're a Pentecostal teenager, church camp friends play a VITAL role in your existence. These weren't even just the kind you see once a year. We loved one another enough that our parents would make special trips to make sure we saw one another throughout the year as well.
"Most go to Heath. Why?" I asked.
With tears in his eyes my dad told me that a student at Heath had just opened fire on a prayer group.
My heart sunk as I realized there was a very real chance my friends would be in that circle.
As the day wore on so many questions formed in our minds. Why? How? Who? Spotty details began to emerge, and I soon learned that one of the victims shared the same first name of a friend. I began calling her house with no luck. I remember lying on my parents' bed crying and praying for hours. Finally that evening her mom answered and assured me everyone I knew was safe and at a prayer vigil.
That tragic incident changed not only the victims and their families' lives; it left an indelible mark on American culture. When I look back over the major events that have shaped my generation, it is staggering to think how many of those include incomprehensible grief at the hands of man.
Today, I send prayers to the vicitims and families at Newtown as well as to all those who are forced to once again relive their own similar nightmares.
Life is ugly.
Evil is rampant.