curvemg.com — Today is my birthday, I lead with this because if I died today, even though I would like to have another 10 or 20 or even 30 more years, living as long as my grandmother, to accomplish the work I still want to do, I would have already led a very full life. I’ve traveled. I’ve lived in different places. I’ve taught college. I spent several years in the domestic Peace Corps. I’ve been an LGBT rights activist, an AIDS activist, a disability rights activist.
I’ve taught in prisons. I’ve taught literacy classes. I’ve taught pregnant teens in a special program. I’ve taught writing at an elite college. I’ve published more than 20 books, five of which have won awards. I’ve started a small press to publish books by LGBT writers and writers of color. I’ve had a long career as a journalist, for which I have been recognized with numerous awards and for which I have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize several times. If I died today, I would have led a full and accomplished life of which I could be proud and for which I am so grateful. I have loved and been loved and I could die at peace, even though it would be well before my time.
I say all this in part because birthdays make one contemplative and a recounting is always good–it makes one think about how one is spending one’s life. But I say it more because for the past week I have been thinking of all that the victims of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never were able to do and now will never do. The environmentalist for whom their school was named herself lived to be 108.
I am thinking of the students, aged 14 through 17, who had barely begun their lives before they were shot and killed allegedly by Nikolas Cruz, 19, on Valentine’s Day. Several of the victims were seniors–they were already slated to go on to college, to further what were promising high school scholastic careers with college careers.