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Looking back

What’s in a year? If you want the simple answer: 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours and 525,600 minutes. If you want the more complex, perhaps existential answer, it’s grief, joy, love, growth, anger and consistently fleeting contentment. The thing that defines that though, and what defines each individual, isn’t the best moments throughout the year, it’s our reactions to the worst moments.

From a journalist’s standpoint, it’s easy to see those moments that define the community you work in; you simply go through the archives of your own work. From my standpoint, it’s specific moments that stuck with me.

Approximately 30 people gathered roadside on Abilene Road on Dec. 18 for a memorial for Brianna Giuriceo, 18, who died Aug. 17 in a single-vehicle crash in the 3300 block of Abilene Road. Her father, Greg Giuriceo, spoke during the service about his daughter.

“She and I were repairing our relationship upon her return and becoming closer,” he said, describing his relationship with his daughter following her move from Oklahoma to live with him. “The thought of knowing she loved me and was proud of me as her father means more than I can express.”

Among tragedies covered throughout 2017 were the deaths of Tori Perez and Jaiden Bartee, two children who were struck and killed by a tractor-trailer March 30 as their school bus approached them on U.S. Route 15, and Michaela Woodson, 16, and Tyauna Woodson, 14, who died after a vehicle they were in plunged off the Willis River bridge in Cumberland into the river April 26.

Standing at the recent Giuriceo memorial by those in their own grieving process and watching the community outpour of love have been what I’ve seen as the moments that have defined the community throughout 2017.

Each of these individuals who passed away were taken much too soon. As noted by friends and family members of Brianna, she was a bright light who was full of life. I would be remiss if I didn’t state this: because they were taken much too soon does not mean that the brevity of their lives leaves their existence as having meant anything less. In fact, they are that much more important to the world for the mark they left on it. Don’t let the light of their lives burn out in 2018. Contact Heart of Virginia representatives, state representatives and congressmen to seek ways to make roads more safe, to pursue legislation for making sure students don’t have to cross the road to board the bus. Don’t let the tragedies of 2017 become a recurring theme in 2018.

MORGAN WHITE is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Morgan.White@FarmvilleHerald.com.