COLUMN: Holding on to the joy and love

By Gerry Power, on behalf of the Power Family

It has now been nearly a year since the event on October 7th.  As long as this year has seemed to be, in our hearts it was only yesterday.

We wish to express our thanks to the Abington community for their support for our family.  Many families had children that were classmates of Alexis, Katherine, and Nathaniel and this has been a difficult year for all of us. No child should have to reflect on the ponderous questions of life and safety,  but this is how their school year started. Our hearts break when we consider their grief.

Deirdre was devoted to Abington, its schools, and so many families. She championed full day kindergarten and it was one of her proudest achievements. She was a constant presence at all PTO and school committee meetings. She loved the PTO Christmas present day, where kids could buy presents for a dollar for their parents and grandparents. She understood her struggles were the struggles of others.

Her circles overlapped: families of the kids’ classmates, Keeping Pace With Multiple Miracles, and the PTO. Her parent friends sought out her parenting advice. They knew she would be there for them anytime.

At KPMM, she was known as the baby whisperer. Everyone sought her advice and assistance. Her heart and love for others knew no bounds.

It is now been a year. The event is in all our pasts. We all hold onto the joy and love Deidre, Alexis, Kathryn, and Nathaniel had for each other.

Each of us have family and friends we love. And every moment we have with them may be the last moment. Please express that love in the moment. Don’t assume a future where their story continues, and in which you will share special moments. Each day, each hour, is that special moment. Now there are no future moments with my daughter and her three children, but there are wonderful, joyous, love-filled memories. We hold them dear. They make us smile.

We never forget, but we also do not dwell on the event itself, because by doing that we lose our grip on the love and joy that brings us peace. Grief is a personal journey. Often we see it as a weepy emptying of the soul. Sadness for the loss. Lethargy, struggling through the day, lost time in the fog of emotions with no name. So much of grieving is a personal response and focused on the events that have ended in loss. We have embraced the glimpse of love of life we were granted. The future is always empty. In our minds and hearts we fill it with our wishes, our hopes our dreams. Yet these projections are never our future. It is the blank path, the blank page of today. Deirdre, Alexis, Kathryn,  and Nathaniel are there only as long as we cherish that glimpse.  They are love, laughter, joy. We carry them forward with us.Today is our forever.

Don’t wait to express your love, your laughter, and your joy for life. Everyone who knew Deirdre loved her laugh. She was always present for those in her life. Alexis never met anyone, even total strangers, that were not her new best friend. Kathryn and Nathaniel were kind and generous with their friends sharing their twins-sense.

God bless the children of Abington. God help those classmates that will struggle all their lives with the dissonance between the obvious family love and the events that ended their friends’ future. Children should not have to question their safety in the place they find love.

Abington’s response and continued support for these children has given our family much comfort. Our family can never express the deep respect we feel for the first responders that morning. They shared in our nightmare, and they have carried scars from that morning.

I especially want to honor three friends of Alexis. In the wake of the event, they raised money to contribute to  the Franklin Park Zoo, and adopted a red panda in her name. Then they funded an Annie’s Kindness Blankets project, and purchased books and classroom supplies for the classmates of Alexis and the twins, Kathryn and Nathaniel. At 11 years of age, they found focus and purpose. It was how they coped with their grief. We all should be so wise.

Thank you Kylie, Kyleigh, and Violet. You will always be our heroes.

The Power Family is asking people to mark October 7th by performing a random act of kindness, to #DoItForDeirdre, and to pass this remembrance on to a friend who may never have known Deirdre or the children. The family is also asking for $5 or $10 donations to Keeping Pace with Multiple Miracles (

Since her death we have repeatedly been told her friends ask themselves, “WWDD” (What would Deirdre do?). So we are hoping you can do a random act of kindness, or two, in Deirdre’s name. Bring a neighbor a plate of cookies or buy the coffee for the car behind you at Dunkin’ Donuts, help a neighbor rake their leaves, smile at the next 10 people you see, leave a note of encouragement for someone who might be struggling. Hand a stranger a note card with a heart surrounding #DoItforDeirdre.”

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