People often ask why I seem to be so happy; my usual reply is “because I’m alive”.

It was six days after my eleventh birthday, so naturally I was happy, but by the end of this day there are feelings I had that I never knew existed.

I recall my primary six teacher asking my class to gather round her as she had something to tell us. She said that a man had gone into a primary school in Dunblane and started shooting at innocent children. The thought that someone could this came to me as a great shock but I did not even consider what might have happened to my cousin, Emma, who lives there. In all honesty I had forgotten about her.

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It wasn’t until I walked past my house window after school and I could see my mum crying, I filled up with worry but the thought of what had happened to my cousin still never entered my mind. I looked at her, then my mum said my cousin’s name. It felt like my legs had just disintegrated. I could not stand. I filled up with both crushing emotion and devastating anger. The reason for my tears was obvious but the answer for my aggression plagued my mind endlessly. I found myself unable to look at anyone. The room was filled with loved ones who were going through the exact same as I was yet each look came across as so patronising.

I felt the only way to get away from the pain and anguish that encircled the living room was to go to my room. I sat alone in silence. This silence made my anger grow until I lashed out; I began to hit the wall repeatedly. The more pain I felt the more I hit. I wanted to try and feel some of the pain my cousin might have. I don’t even think I came to within an inch of it. I didn’t stop, until my mum dragged my emotionless body away. She looked in my eyes. Then came an awkward silence that felt like an eternity. She could not say anything. She gave me the one thing I needed the most, love.

As my cousin came from my dad’s side of the family I knew I would have difficulty when I would have to see or speak to him. I saw him that night. It was as I expected. He was hurting, maybe more than I was. Seeing my dad looking so weak was an awful sight. All the life that I’m used to seeing in him had been slowly drained away. I wanted to stay with him as he looked frail and in need of some company, but he said he was going out to Dunblane that night. That is something I could not face.

The day after I decided to go back to school. I thought if I went to a place where all my friends were I would maybe be distracted from all the hurt that was deep inside of me. I walked down to school with some of my closest friends, but the first topic of conversation was the inevitable. I had to talk about it, I had to tell them that my cousin had been murdered. Again my body came under siege with emotion. I broke down into tears. The topic was then avoided as we walked to school but I knew it would only get worse as I had more people to tell. At school I didn’t show emotion. I forced myself to be strong. I felt that if I showed my true feelings I would be looked at as weak. This was a long day. I wanted to get home and sit with my mum because she knew exactly what I felt.

I did not attend the funeral. I was in denial. I would not face up to the fact that something so cruel had happened to someone I loved so much. I didn’t think I could face seeing an innocent child put to rest, as in my head all I could think was all the things she’ll never try or do. It made me feel that life was somewhat pointless. My mum suggested counciling as I was obviously unable to cope with death. I refused as I knew if I did that I would have to talk about it. To this day still a have a great reluctance to talk about the horror of what happened.

This experience dramatically changed my outlook on life. As a person I don’t feel that there was much of a change but the way I now look at things is different. I knew that for Emma’s sake I had to go out and face the world. As the clich� goes, I now take every day in my stride. I smile to show that I’m grateful that I’ll experience what life has to offer me. To this day still the topic arises, in classes a teacher may mention it. When this is talked about I get an indescribable feeling going throughout my body. This may be the way that emotion works. I’m not sure. All over the world people are still using handguns. No matter how many protests take place people still feel the need. My only question is why? Why shoot someone? Is there a sense of power that comes with that?


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