Life and the Universe is eternally unfair. That is a fact none of us will ever escape. It is often unfathomable to comprehend the cruel twists of fate many suffer. I often think about my favorite Alanis Morissette song "Ironic" when I think about life's dirty tricks. That song says it all.
I also often wonder about the people I went to school with. Thanks to social media we can all find one another and see how everyone turned out, well for the most part, who knows what everyone is lying about on social media. One of the worst discoveries is finding out how much sadness and tragedy struck so many. Car accidents, cancer, murder, alcoholism, it's enough to make you want to hide.
So let's hear some stories...
Redditor u/ajchann123 wanted to chat about the people we leave behind in youth by asking:
Who in your high school graduating class had the most tragic adult life?
In high school I had an acquaintance named Katy. Katy was so sweet. She was popular but still had a heart and never looked down upon us second and tier mates. She would often stand up other people's bullies. I always thought, she's going to live a great life and she deserves it...
Life is Unfair
"I am old so my graduating class will be on average 43 now. There are many deaths, tragic divorces etc. The following is the most tragic story among my friends. A girl that I was close to from kindergarten through graduation and stayed in touch with afterward. She married in her 30's and had trouble conceiving children."
"She spent 8 years and thousands and thousands of dollars in order to get pregnant. She was told it wasn't going to happen. One week after the doctor confirmed her only pregnancy in all that time - she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. She died 3 weeks after her beautiful son was born."
"The wild child girl that ended up married with 2 beautiful kids and set in life only to be killed in an accident with a street racer at 30. The racer hit her doing over 100 miles an hour on a neighbourhood street. Got a minimal sentence. 9 months."
"Kid from my school was an amazing musician. He won every possible award for music at the regional/state level, then got a full scholarship to a prestigious music school. Freshman year, he died of a brain aneurysm in his sleep."
"Mine is a chillingly story:"
"A high school classmate of mine, married late, struggled to get pregnant, had her first child at 40, was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer 9 months later and died a week before her daughter's 1st birthday."
"I'm mid-40s and at primary school (ages 4-11) was very friendly with a group of other girls, called D, T, and A. As well as our time together at school we spent our evenings and weekends together, and I have happy memories of long summer holidays playing at each other's homes. D became very sick aged 11 and died of leukaemia a year later. T died aged 21 in a car crash with her fiancé. He was driving them home late one night when he lost control of the car and it left the road."
"All four occupants of the car were killed. My poor, beautiful friends. I feel so sad for the suffering each of them has endured. I occasionally see D's dad and I can't begin to describe the pain in his eyes, knowing that D never got the chance to grow up."
"universe has no justice"
"My friend finished university, was about to earn his PhD, got out of an abusive relationship, but finally found a nice girl. And then they died together in a car crash."
"Nothing in this thread really got to me. It all kinda struck as the usual "universe has no justice" fare. but, for some reason, posts like this always get to me. It's so nice they found each other and got to be together, but they still died. Like. That sucks. I don't know."
"A guy I graduated high school with. He went to U of Iowa. One of the nicest guys I've ever known. Was outside of a bar and some guy was yelling at and pushing another guy. He went over to diffuse the situation and the guy starting everything popped him hard in the face, then smacked his head against a brick wall. Went unconscious, and when he came to his friends took him home (bad idea)."
"Next day he was unconscious and taken to the hospital. Died a week later. The guy got 10 years for voluntary manslaughter, $1,000 fine and $150,000 to the guy's estate. The father reached settlement of $1.7mil from lawsuits against the two bars serving the attacker."
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"Kid had cancer all his young life. Was at death's door numerous times, but always rebounded. Had the heart of a lion, never gave up, never surrendered. He was declared cancer free on his 18th birthday, and got hit and killed by a drunk driver after his senior prom."
"My lifelong bully, from early childhood till she dropped out of high school ended up living a very short, tragic life. She made my life a living hell. She would jump me and harass me and terrorize me on a daily basis for years. She died of a gastro bleed in her apartment. She was there, alone, dead, for about 6 weeks."
"The apartment manager finally broke in and found her and her 3 month old baby dead on the floor when she wouldn't answer the phone calls about rent being so late. She bled out. She died of internal bleeding. Her baby starved. No one heard/smelled anything due to the way the flats were set up. No one came looking for her except her landlord."
"Nick Adenhart. Hell of a ball player. Works his butt off all his life to realize his dream of becoming a Major League pitcher. Finally realizes that dream, starts his first game, and is killed by a drunk driver a few hours later."
"Rest in peace, Nick."
After grade 9
"Dude I actually went to public school with in the first place, met his one love in grade 9. They near-immediately started dating, attended university near one another, lived together, the works. They get married, have two kids, great jobs, everything just lined up perfectly - until he died suddenly of heart failure. Not sure which is more tragic: his passing, or her moving on with two kids under five without him."
"Our valedictorian dropped out of college due to his rich parents dying in a tragic accident and through a series of lawsuits (on the estate by business partners), had pretty much nothing left to him. So he moved to Northern Rural Illinois and works at a factory or a warehouse place. I hear about him through my sister. He has a stable life but is still incredibly depressed."
3 hours later...
"My school had a guy die like 3 hours after graduation. They were drunk, stoned and who knows what else. Somehow they ended up with a gun and were trying to spin it on their fingers or some crap and the gun ended up firing. Hit the guy right in the head."
"One girl had hydrocephalus. She was a nice girl, quiet, and always seemed to be sick. I was kind of friends with her past graduation, and whenever I was on AIM we would chat a little bit. She always seemed to be getting ready for another surgery, or just had one."
"On top of that, her personal life was rough -- around five relatives of hers died within a span of three years. She died age 22 from complications. I wanted to go to the funeral, but it happened while I was across the country. What a sad, crappy way to go."
She was spared...
"One of mine (year below though) had her entire family (including extended family) murdered by one of her cousins. For whatever reason she stayed at a friend's house the night they were all murdered at her house."
Check to Check
"A bit different than the death ones. Almost my entire graduating class. Attended an evangelical Christian high school (no alternate schools in the area) and most of them wound-up married young, uneducated, living paycheque-to-paycheque, unhappy because they aren't the same people at 35 they were at 18 and are stuck with partners who have nothing in common with them. Consequently, I don't attend reunions."
Where to begin?
"Our most likely to succeed has 4 kids with two different women, has been arrested for domestic violence, is on his second marriage and left his first bride to be at the alter, lost his house to foreclosure, lives in a trailer, and cannot hold down a job for more than 2 years."
"A girl I knew, super sweet and very motivated to help others. She became a counselor for people in need and drug addicts. Then died of ridiculously rare cancer in her mid 20s. She was better than most of us, and her death is proof there is no justice in the universe."
"The guy that used to bully me in elementary school ended up getting testicular cancer. I think he's still alive but last I heard he wasn't doing well at all. We're only 25."
Five years after school, while on the way to her wedding dress appointment a car jumped a median and landed on Katy's car, crushing and killing her instantly. They were driving in different directions. Now I get head-on collisions, in fact, we look out for those, they're often easy to avoid...
But how in the world can we prepare for a schmuck, who was going too fast, to accidentally jump a median? Awful. Poor Katy. She deserved better. And so did a lot of these people. I hope they all find or found peace eventually.
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School is a dangerous place. That is a tragic fact. Back in my day, school was a safe place.
We all gathered to learn and build a foundation as people. Now, no matter where you attend school, in a fancy schmancy neighborhood or in a more challenging area, no one is safe.
Horror, tragedy and violence has struck everywhere. And those who are there to witness it carry those scars all through life.
So how do we fix this issue? Or is it just a human error problem that is never going to get better? Why is education saddled with danger? If I was school age now, I'd definitely choose homeschooling.
Redditor u/Mariothemaster245 wanted to hear about legacies of schools. Who is still haunted and why? They asked:
What is the worst thing that happened at your school?
My schools weren't perfect. We had bullies and fights broke out often, but nobody ever pulled out a knife or a gun. And all of our teachers and students survived. Well most, the one's that didn't, succumb to natural causes. How do we get back there?
Eyes ClosedConfused Daily Show GIF by CTV Comedy ChannelGiphy
"Kid streaked (fully naked) across campus, hiding his face using a condom. He passed out about a minute into the run."
"My classmates dad had a heart attack at graduation and died. He was just yelling at his wife and keeled over."
"A similar thing happened at my girlfriends graduation. It was a hit packed gym And all of a sudden in the middle of the ceremony people start moving away from a spot in the bleachers near me, turns out one of the graduating student's aunt was having a heart attack. She lived though because literally every first responder was there (small town 1500 people 80 in graduating class) and the fire station was a block away."
"There was a girl in my school who was being bullied and basically chased into the busy street in front of the school. She got hit by a few cars. The next morning people were making fun of the situation because her shoes flew off after she was hit. My school was filled with a**holes."
"Edit: She did end up dying. I think she may have died on impact. But the memory is fuzzy. She didn't die in the hospital that I know for sure."
"At one of the schools I went to, some kid stabbed a disabled kid to get into a gang."
"And I'm sure that "street cred" will buy him a lot of ramen when he's sitting in prison for the next few decades."
Fake OutNew Girl Facepalm GIF by HULUGiphy
"We had somebody plant fake bombs and call in a bomb threat at the high school so the police would all be focused at the high school. Was really just a distraction for a double homicide/suicide across town."
Oh see there, that's all a bit much. School is stressful enough already. Our class clowns only exhibited foolish behavior, like spitballs, fake bombs? We've lost control...
In the heartFacepalm Smh GIFGiphy
"A teacher went to break up a fight, and she got stabbed in the chest. Teachers were not allowed to break up fights after that. She survived but she quit teaching."
"The seniors planned their senior prank to have a bunch of alarm clocks go off in lockers all over the school throughout the day. The idea was that by the time one locker was unlocked to turn off the alarm another would be going off. Unfortunately for the seniors, the day they planned this happened to be the same day Obama was campaigning at the fair grounds less than a mile away. The alarm clocks got mistaken as bomb threats and just about every senior in the school was questioned by either police or teachers. Basically it was just a huge misunderstanding that lead to a whole bunch of crap."
"Someone tried to assassinate the physics teacher. Our high school was 3 stories. The math and science rooms were on the 3rd floor. During parent-teacher interviews someone turned on all the natural gas taps in his classroom and left a lit candle on the floor."
"The idea being that since natural gas rises. It would fill the room and explode when it touched the candle. Teacher found it only a few minutes after the would be assassin left the room and was able to put out the candle. They never figured out who did it, to the best of my knowledge."
My Brother's Ex
"My brother dated a girl briefly in 8th grade who later snapped in high school. She had convinced a group of 5 other people to commit to a plan to weld the high school doors shut and burn people with a home made flamethrower and shoot people."
"The morning of the planned day someone was tipped off and the cops called. The school went on lockdown for 6-7 hours and they found the girl's parents taped up and stabbed a crazy number of times in their closet of their home. This was 3 years after my brother dated her."
IdiotIdiot Reaction GIFGiphy
"Nothing as brutal as some of the other storied but about half way through the day once a guy was spotted walking across our sports field with a rifle, Everyone was kept in classes for about an hour? Turns out it was some idiot looking for the nearby shooting range and accidentally stumbled onto school grounds."
Clearly, we need therapists and guards in school around the clock. And a grief counselor for life would probably do everyone a world of good.
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*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
When a sudden tragedy strikes a school, an uncanny tone sweeps across the community.
The whispers of half-informed students fly down hallways and across cafeterias. Each is heard with a balance of eager interest and mournful respect.
Teachers act strangely. They hold secrets and quietly argue about how to deliver the tragic news. The chain of command is strained under the unique circumstances.
When a student dies, all decorum subsides.
Perhaps wondering what that environment feels like, Redditor ThatOneLazySushi asked:
"Teachers who had to tell their class a student passed away, what was it like?"
Many teachers talked about the times a student or students chose to take their own lives.
The moral of the story? There is simply no way to deliver that news without an injection of trauma.
"My step-dad is a private school principal who also taught 7-8th graders. Total class size was 21 or so. Over the weekend one of the 13yo died of apparent suicide. I have never seen him so pale and empty looking when he got home that day."
"You could tell he had been crying along with the students. In his 30 years he had never dealt with anything like that and he shut down for a good while. He never saw a counselor but set it up for the students. I wish he would."
A Faceless Note
"On the 2nd day that I was in my own doing student teaching, the school went into lockdown. As this was just over a year after 911, the class, a senior Government class, surmised that it had something to do with that. There has been 2 suicides of dropped-out students in the prior 2 weeks, but that did not come up."
"Then a note was slipped under the door stating that a senior, the girlfriend to one of the prior suicides, had killed herself that morning. The option was given to announce it or have someone come down from the office to do it."
"I guess they could see my concern, and the color draining from my face while reading it, as I was asked, 'Mr. D——, what's going on?' I told them, and it was heartbreaking. There was a lot of anger and a lot of tears. It has been nearly 20 years and it still haunts me."
"In hindsight, it was, to quote the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue, a Get Tough Or Die moment. I've lost 5 current/former students since then, but none were as dark as the first one."
Probably the Best Response
"I used to teach English in China as an expat. The college I worked at had three suicides in a year, one of the students was in my department. Although I didn't teach the student directly, the tone of the students and my colleagues were extremely gloom."
"Although tragic, the topic of mental health had been on the forefront of school business after the third incident and a therapy office for students has been established in the administration building. I was very proud of my school for taking mental health seriously, and had a discussion with my students about the issue. I kept my office open for any students wanting to talk."
"AFAIK no other suicide/attempt was made for the remainder of my time there (~1 year afterward). Flowers were set up at the location."
"Worst day of my career. A student of mine shot himself the night before. The SRO told me that morning. The principal made an announcement over the intercom for all of my students to come to my room and instructed me to tell everyone about his passing while all the admin and district and school counselors watched."
"His best friend just got out of a mental hospital for cutting himself. He was sitting right next to me when I spoke to the class. I instructed one of the counselors to not let the best friend out of their sight for any reason. 30 minutes later, the counselor informs me the best friend has gone missing."
"I search the school and find him, razor in hand, and a bloody mess. I take the razor and hold him with one arm while calling his dad with the other. It was a long and terrible day."
Other teachers recalled times that a student suffered at the hands of community violence. These stories took place in areas where, unfortunately, despite the sadness it wasn't completely shocking.
A Constellation of Factors
"A student of ours was shot and killed. It happened just as quarantine had started so no students to tell. Just the teachers and staff."
"I had talked to the student no more than a week before everything shut down. We had threatened to call CPS on the mother because she had several children not going to school at all. We also suspected she was under the influence of drugs. He came in because of this threat and had told us his twin had been shot during a party and died. Most likely gang related for both of the shootings."
"It's difficult because these were 16-year-olds that should have had a better shot at life but the system failed them every step of the way."
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Last to Hear
"Used to teach in inner-city Chicago. Never had a student die, but several of them got shot. The kids knew well before I did."
"I actually had one student missing for three days; I mentioned it out loud that it was odd they weren't in class for three days in a row, and one of my kids said, 'Oh, Joe got shot seven times. You didn't know?' "
"Pretty harrowing stuff. It's tough to sleep those days off, especially considering how casual the kids would be about it."
Feels So Random
"A classmate from first period in my Jr. year of high school. The teacher just walked in to class and explained that this chick was shot in a drive by at the park."
"I just remember being super uncomfortable and not knowing what to do. The chick that sat behind her in class just lost it. Just shocked looked on her face, and she just started bawling. I'm sure she went home after that."
"I took flowers to the place ware she died. I didn't know her that well at all really. But I thought to myself 'even if you may not feel it, it's always good to pay your respects.' So I did."
"My wife works in a high needs area that is plagued with gang violence. A few years back 4 students were found brutally murdered in the woods (MS13 hit). 2 of them were her students It was highly publicized and everyone knew before the next school day (I believed it happened over a long weekend or a school break)."
"For her breaking news wasn't hard but dealing with the fallout was heartbreaking. Sadness, fear and anxiety not just because of the murders but because of the extreme attention it received (it was highly politicized on the state and national level). Many students are afraid of the gangs but they are also afraid of the police and other authorities. The student body is incredibly vulnerable."
Finally, some people discussed the sudden medical tragedies that took place. Without any backstory, context, or logic to share, delivering this news felt sickening.
"I was a student in a 2nd grade class where this happened. One of my classmate's older brothers had collapsed in the cafeteria. We all saw it. Our teacher had to come in and tell us the little information she knew and I distinctly remember her crying and having to leave the room."
"Days later when the brother was taken off life support they brought in child psychologists to tell us about brain death and life support machines and the hard decision his parents had to make. As an adult I really appreciate the care the school took to make sure everything was explained in a child appropriate manner."
"There was no gossip or whispering because they told us everything that happened. Our teachers even brought us to the funeral, explaining that although it would be sad it was important to show our classmate our support. A horrible situation that was handled as well as it could be given how young we were."
Just Being Kids
"(Student) In middle school I had a friend and his brother die from an electrocution accident from a downed power line after a storm. It was 2 brothers one in 6th grade and one in 5th."
"Everyone was acting weird that day and no one really knew why. Kids were crying and walking out of class, it kind of threw off our whole school day. I remember one of our teacher telling us what happened and got really emotional."
"Apparently a kid who went to our school witnessed what happened too and she basically said don't ask him questions about the situation. It hit her close to home for some reason I don't know why, she couldn't even speak without crying. I knew my old classmate a little bit and we shared a class. He was a really nice kid. RIP to him & his brother."
A Horrifying Fluke
"My son was in the 3rd or 4th grade and one day he came home and said 'P didn't come to school today, her brother died.' It turned out the older brother and mom were playing around at home and she tapped him on the head with the heel of her shoe."
"He laid down to take a nap and died due to a clot or something like that. I can't even imagine."
A Confused Response
"I was the student here, and in 6th grade the teacher and principal both told our class that our classmate had passed. He had bullied me daily. When I heard the news, 11 year old me felt relief, and I never really thought about him again."
"Now, as a more empathetic adult, I feel absolutely horrible that I had that reaction to his death. I don't think as a kid, even in middle school, I truly understood what death was. I would take getting bullied every day over him dying."
"To tie this into the question - I don't envy educators that have to deliver this news at all. Some kids are losing their best friend or classmate, and some kids may not fully comprehend what happened."
Close to Home
"Im a student not a teacher, but the teachers son died from a car accident and he was one of my friends"
"The teacher came in crying and told us there would be a meeting in the auditorium to honor his son, I ended up going home and crying the rest of the day because one of my best friends died"
A Very Sad Start to the Day
"When I was in high school two of my classmates died, one in tenth grade from Reye's Syndrome, the other in eleventh grade from leukemia. In both instances the entire school was notified during the morning announcements over the PA."
Someone To Talk To
"I teach elementary school and a student in an colleague's class (same grade) had a student pass away mid year. The student was sick. I forget what exactly he had, but it was well known he wouldn't live long, and he was frequently out of class due to illness or dr appointments."
"The day after his passing, a grief counselor was brought in and helped explain to the class what death was in a very age appropriate way. I had a couple of students in my class who were friends with the deceased student. I sent them to the grief counselor, and they said it helped a lot."
Unfortunately, when a teacher takes the job they rarely imagine these days as part of the job description. But things like this do happen, and it's so important that kids have teachers when they do.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
It could happen when you're simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and forced to witness a devastating accident or injury. It could be the very real ramifications of health struggles and medical calamities.
Or it could be the result of very bad people willing to do very bad things.
Whatever the source, these encounters stick with you. It may be a certain image, maybe a sound, or the whole emotional feeling throughout the incident.
Redditor Dankmemes2347 asked:
"What was the most horrific thing you have ever seen?"
Many people discussed the gruesome accidents they've witness over the years. You just never know.
A Smooshed Head
"I was working at a chemical plant years ago and saw a guy take a corner too fast in a fork truck and flip it over. He wasn't wearing his seat belt and was thrown out far enough for the top of the cage to crush his head."
"I can still picture his blood running down a nearby drain."
Ride Like Lightning, Crash Like Thunder
"I saw a dude die after t-boning a minivan on his motorcycle. I didn't actually see the impact but I heard it, and ran to the scene and watched him take his last breaths while his buddy who must have been riding behind him, held him and screamed."
"People that saw it said he was in the wrong and must have been doing 80+ in a 45. The van was pulling into a shopping center and never saw him coming."
The Origins if Shoulder Straps
"Dad is a retired police officer. First one to arrive on scene at an amusement park where a guy stuck his head out of a roller coaster car and was decapitated. The ride only had an old across the lap seat belt."
"This was many years ago, before all the ultra-safe coaster cars of today where you can't even move in them."
A Lucky, Lucky Man
"Once EMS brought in a guy with a fence post running under his trachea diagonally into his his chest via his left collarbone area. Lot's of extremity fractures of course, broken ribs, pneumothorax, face all distorted, etc."
"But, they also brought in his right leg (below the knee) in an orange bucket, and his entire right arm, still inside the sleeve of his leather jacket in another bucket. His arm had literally been yanked off at the shoulder."
A Need for Change
"3 people died behind my house last year. I live next to a big road and the exit sogn is covered by a bush. People turn too late and hit the guardrail and flip off a mini hill."
"Never really seen it but i am afraid of intersections."
First On Scene
"When I was in college, the guy who lived two doors down from me in my dorm died from autoerotic asphyxiation. He was dead for three days before we found him. I was there for the discovery."
Other Redditors talked about slower burns. They recalled the tragic demises of loved ones that occurred over long, fraught periods of time.
"When I was 5 I watched my dad dive in to the swimming pool he built in our backyard and break his neck. He became a quadriplegic."
"Then I had to watch him slowly fade away and die over the next 20 years. I watched everyone of his friends abandon him, and his family members slowly start to resent him, and then openly talk about how they will be relieved when he's gone. Even his mother."
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The Last Night
"Waking up after yet ANOTHER sleepless sight of giving my terminally ill wife her meds, to find her unresponsive and being there when she took her last breath."
"This probably isn't what you're looking for but mine would be my grandmother's decline with dementia. She used to dress really well, feisty, bit of a short temper but still family."
"Now I barely recognise her, she's lost a lot of weight, no longer washes or changes her clothes and seems so vacant. It's terrifying seeing her lose more and more of herself. It's such a cruel disease and a slow way to go."
A Body Run Amok
"I was with a friend when they died of end stage leukemia. The medical team did a horrible job of pain control and body fluid control."
"They were bleeding and secreting bloody foam from their lungs. We had to suction. It was awful."
A few people talked about the horrific scenes they've witnessed that had to do with animals.
A Gruesome Industry
"Lions that had been poached. The poachers had only taken their heads and paws. Also, watching their bodies burn and making sure there was nothing left because they had been poisoned."
"Couldn't risk ground or water contamination, or scavengers finding even a small piece of flesh."
A Horrible Chorus
"The most horrific was when a dairy barn near my parents' home caught fire one night and went up in flames."
"All those cows, horses, and sheep died - with their screaming in pain for all to hear. It was terrible . . ."
Mug to the Rescue
"Was standing in my balcony and enjoying a cup of coffee when I saw a six teenagers approaching a dog. Four of them grabbed the dog by each of her limbs and one dude supported her torso. The dog was obviously violently trying to break herself free."
"Then one dude took a pair of scissors from his pocket and I was confused, but then I almost froze after realising the dude wanted to cut the dog's nipples off."
"I panicked and just yelled and threw my coffee mug towards them. They got scared and ran away and the dog ran in the opposite direction."
"First time going to Toronto on my own. I think I was 19. Got off the Greyhound and went out on to the sidewalk to begin my independent voyage when a pigeon decided to land just as a city bus drove by and crushed it."
"I was feet away heard the crunch still haunts me."
Minor, But Lasting
"When I stepped on a frog when I was younger and thinking I could fix it and crying for over an hour. I buried it in my backyard. I may not Seem horrific but to a five year old it left an emotional impact."
"I already knew the concept of death because I had a lot of family die when I was younger so I knew I did something bad and didn't want it to die."
It's clear that many people are out here carrying an image or two that quickens the breath and drops the stomach every time it comes to mind.
Hopefully, with enough time these moments can be let go.
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