A few days ago, I told you a story about joy. A few days later, a sad nobody walked into a school in Connecticut and stole the lives of 25 people, many of them young children.
It wasn’t long after when this photograph of some of the victims of the shooting made it’s way around Facebook. I couldn’t help but gravitate towards the young girl on the top row, second from the right. I looked at her shirt, the words “Joy” written on it, and I was overwhelmed.
It took me a while to figure out who she was: Olivia Engel, 6 years old. If our son Oliver had been born a girl, his name would have been Olivia. An olive branch, throughout history, has been a symbol of peace or victory. My heart mourns for the Engel family right now, and I can’t fathom how long it might be before they feel peace or victory in their lives. But today, instead of choosing to remember the name of a killer made famous by sensationalist media, I will choose to remember the name of Olivia Engel.
Olivia was born on July 18, 2006 and “brought immediate joy to all those around her with her ever-present smile and adorably infectious giggle”.
According to a tribute written in the Newtown Bee:
Quickly growing from a happy, bouncing baby who clung tightly to her stuffed lamb into an enthusiastic, loving little girl who always wanted to do and see more, Olivia’s zest for life began early. With help from her adoring parents, she quickly developed an affinity for all things fun. On any given afternoon, one could just as easily find Olivia twirling in a pink tutu in dance class, developing her swing on the tennis court, kicking the winning soccer goal, drawing, painting, and gluing things in art class, or honing her inner songstress in her community musical theater class.
This Christmas, as you sit down with your family to dinner, will you stop for a minute to remember one of these children, and say a prayer for their families?