Written by Sarah McCarthy 

Photograph by   Georgi Petrov

Photograph by Georgi Petrov


Thanks for your time.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself and my life.

I have a good life, a happy one for the most part.

I was born on the 28th of July, 2003, in Seattle, Washington. Middle Class family. Middle Class Jobs. An older brother. Yay me. No, I’m joking, he’s awesome.

I love my parents.

My dad tells me when your child comes into this world, it’s a love like nothing else, you see all the possible things they could become. In his case for me it was an ‘A’ grade student, a moody teenager, a psychology major!

Pretty much everything from a doctor, to a world record holder!

‘The most, hot dogs eaten in under five minutes’ – just kidding.

I’m pretty sure that didn’t occur to him, and if it did he never told me about it.

But he did see my future and the paths it could take.

He’d be there through it all, to be my hero and my inspiration. To see me happy. Over-coming life’s many obstacles.

First obstacle. Pre-school, I was two.

My brain just starting to comprehend the vastness of the world. It was no longer confined to my family and our tiny house, where gripping on to the vacuum cleaner, my legs first understood what it was to stand straight and stretch out a foot. Slowly making my way through the house to stand behind mum doing the dishes.

 She turned around and screamed.

Think I almost gave her a heart attack. Guess I’d been quieter than I thought.

‘Fred, she’s walking’. She shouted.

Maybe that’s the moment I first thought about MY voice. Which when loud enough could gain the attention of everyone within a block radius.

Or at least a whole shopping mall.

And with words, a new form of communication was a part of my life. First encountered playing pretend.

… And learning to lie about why there was crushed crayons behind the sofa.

Compromising during play-time at kindergarten. Who would be doctor and who patient?

Developing my brain to process complex ideas … far more than I ever contemplated.

And then - Friends!

People who understood me, or at least tried to.

I could tell them my secrets and knew they would be safe and in return they’d share theirs.

Play dates and birthday parties. Best friend forever promises. Some of them I’d stay close to through sixth grade.

Even after the move with my family, we’d keep in contact. I would message them for years to come. I knew I’d go back and visit them someday.

My legs now fully accustomed to moving, my adventures reached new heights. Walking turns to running. Extension of muscles and ligaments turns to pointing. From point, to leaping. It’s the thrill of dancing for me. Letting everything go.

My cares, and the millions of worries circling my head, fly out of it as I pirouette and Chaîné down the centre of a studio. My place to shine.

Competitions … failing and winning – it’s all worth it. That rush of feeling and emotion at the applause, when you realize you have a special talent at something. And everyone else see’s it too.

Next step on the journey - Junior High.

Now I loved dancing. But …

P.E was utter bollocks… unless you like running in a circle (or playing rounders)!

The hole in a hedge was great luck however.

If you got tired or bored, you could just sit in it for a couple of laps. Pretend to be really out of breath when you finally emerged.

There were subjects where my head would be on the desk. Doodling diagrams or wishing I was old enough to drink hoping it might make the subject of ‘superficial anatomy’ actually possible to listen to.

Driving lessons needed to happen sooner!

I just wanted to get in my car and be able to escape. Once I got that pass, I’d go anywhere I wanted to go. Total freedom.

Everything I want to do and be, just out of reach.

Starting each day again. Learning to ride a bike and realising each new day, that you’re back to square one.

Trying to take off the stabilizers when you don’t feel ready. But everyone telling you, you’ll never succeed if you don’t fail. And you’ll defiantly never succeed if you don’t try.

But that doesn’t calm down the nerves when you step up on to that stage or sit down for that test, when your body is telling you the complete opposite of everything you want to feel.

Even just to put yourself out there is a scary thing. It’s hard to believe your worth something, when your own head tells you, you’re not.

But that’s the human condition.

Then there are those, golden moments, breakthroughs, where none of the other worries matter… you’re happy. It’s the place we try to keep ourselves in permanently, where we realize our worth.

Years fly by.

I’m wishing my teenage years away until I’m old enough to start wishing for them back. My to do list getting longer by the second, even as my time to do it all in, shortens. Glowing memories within my own filing cabinet. Picking out the golden moments of my life and the grey.

High School. The first heartbreak. Tears, leaving black trails on your face and soaking your pillow, are expected, you’ve been warned. Burying your face into your duvet – hopefully never to surface again. Disbelief and Numbness pumps through your bloodstream.

It takes time. Ice cream helps.

Putting his face on a dartboard and going to town on it helps more.

Life’s not perfect, but it’s yours to make of it what you will. Endless possibilities to travel, love and live. To grow.

I understand what my dad meant. When your first child comes into this world and your filled with so much love for such a tiny thing.

You see their future and would do anything to protect them from any pain or sadness.

You literally become Superwoman. You withstand any amount of torture for them, to have the life they dream of. YOU do. Child-birth is not something you want to go through twice but you do for your babies.

And no matter how tall or old or annoyed at you they get, they will always be your babies.

You grow. They grow.

You grow old with someone. Arguing with them about where they’ve put the bloody remote this time. They can’t hear you. They keep forgetting to turn their hearing aid on.

Grandkids for Sunday dinner – they come into the kitchen for a hug – they know there’s a biscuit and 10 dollars in it for them if they do.

And life’s good. There may be some regrets. But if you didn’t have them, you wouldn’t be here. Surrounded by this family and you wouldn’t wish that away for the universe.

But I have a confession. There’s one thing I never told you.

My name.

My name is Jamie Guttenberg.

And on the 14th of February, 2018, a troubled kid of nineteen, who needed help and should under no circumstances have been allowed to purchase a gun of any kind. Walked into my school with an AK-15 and took my life and all those possibilities away from me. My life ended about two minutes into this speech.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

Some of my fellow sacrifices to America’s gun war, at the Sandy Hook Primary School, didn’t get to the second paragraph.

Avielle Richman, or ‘Avie’ as she was known, was six years old.

She loved horses and Harry Potter, and her dream car was a mini-van.



This is me talking now, Sarah McCarthy.

A twenty-one-year-old, from South West London. I’ve already lived 7/8 more years than Jamie. Almost a quadruple amount of time that Avie was given.

I feel like my life hasn’t even begun yet.

I also can’t remember any memories I have from when I was six.

And I definitely have no idea how it is possible to go into a store, buy a gun and then enter a school with it.

A child from America, a child from Syria, a child from England. They are still just that – A Child!

We will have no idea who these children would have become to the world and society, but I think it’s fair to say, that each and everyone of them was already someone important to their friends and families.

As I was writing, I sat and watched people describe the most amazing kids who had barely begun. No-one should have to write an obituary about their child or father or mother, who went off to school and didn’t come home. No-one should have to write an obituary about someone not coming home after they went for a night out with their friends.

Losing a child is heart-breaking, as is losing a family member who died protecting those children. But that is their reality.

Their reality is that, those students will never be able to go to school without remembering that day.

The parent’s reality is that they will be putting flowers on their children’s graves instead of in their hair on their wedding day.   

The gun law needs changing.

Stricter enforces need to be put on those who could buy guns, as does the safety within schools.

Yes, it’s happening in America, and we’re in England so why should we care?

Again, I repeat a child is a child. A human being is a human being. Take a look at ‘Avie’ or the life of ‘Jamie’ and tell me their lives aren’t worth us standing with the students who are bravely taking control because their government refuses to listen.

I’m in England and I realize that their law on guns doesn’t make sense anymore.

How fucked up does a law have to be for somebody in another country to realize it needs to be changed?

Your thoughts and prayers are great. We send our thoughts and prayers too. Together we have all the thoughts and prayers kids like Avie and Jamie could ever want…but what they needed, what we need… is action.       

Yippee kayah anti-gunners!