On May 23, 2014, my stepdaughter was a student at UCSB when six of our fellow Gauchos were murdered in Isla Vista.
My wife and I were horrified by the news. Thankfully, our daughter had come home early for the weekend. She and her friends still on campus were safe, but my heart ached for the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We knew it could’ve been us that got the phone call no parent ever wants to receive.
A day after the shootings I pinned the photo to my Twitter profile. It was my way of remembering the Isla Vista of my undergraduate days. It meant my stepdaughter was safe.
It became a silly superstition for me: I wouldn’t unpin the photo until she’d graduated.
Tonight I talked to my stepdaughter about what happened on that day. We’ve talked about it in the past and I know we’ll talk about it in the future.
I remember being proud of how the student and Santa Barbara communities rallied around the university. I remember the chants of “Not one more.” I remember thinking about how we honor the memories of the deceased not by reliving the past, but learning from it in order to make a better present and future.
I unpinned the photo today.
As I see my stepdaughter make her way in the world — having graduated, having worked an internship in the Philippines, and having gotten into graduate school — I remember the students whose lives were cut short, whose dreams were extinguished before they could be realized, and whose family and friends must carry the memories of their unrealized potential.
I remember that as terrible as that day was, there were — and are — plenty of awe-inspiring days, too.
I remember that the evil in this world will always be eclipsed by the good.
Cheng Yuan Hong
Most importantly, I remember.
Update 6-4-18: You can listen to me read this post on YouTube.