By: Kayla Mueller – Staff Writer
My alarm clock woke me on Tuesday the same way it does any other day. But that Tuesday was no typical day. I woke to an unusual number of text messages, saying things like, “Are you ok?” and “I love you Kayla.”
Friends from high school that I haven’t talked to in years were posting on my Facebook wall and sending me messages. My concerned advisor rewound the news when she was watching it at home with her husband. I received over 50 text messages and several phone calls. Some friends even sent me Snapchats with images from their internet home screen. In three of my classes Tuesday my professors diverted their lectures in a special aside with the entire class, catching many off guard. My grandparents have been receiving countless phone calls from their friends – all because I share my name with another girl.
This day was different because something tragic had happened to a different Kayla Mueller, someone who I had never heard of before, on the other side of the world. She was a 26-year-old aid worker from Arizona who had been held hostage by ISIS since 2013. Her death was confirmed by the White House and made national news on Tuesday.
According to NBC, Mueller’s parents released statements saying, “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need from freedom, justice and peace … Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue in peace, dignity and love for her.”
We all have our own names, and when they are used in the news, it has the potential to change how we view the situation. It makes it real. It makes us realize that behind the words in the newspaper is another human being.
Kayla Mueller was an American citizen who went to college and was making the world a better place. In Prescott, Arizona, there is a community of people suffering for the loss of Kayla Jean Mueller. There are parents, Carl and Marsha, who never get to talk to their daughter again. There is a brother who has lost his little sister. There are friends who will never get to be in Kayla’s life again.
I am the first to admit that sometimes I am not the best at staying up-to-date on current events, but having my name associated with this woman I have experienced the news in a very different way. I feel as though I know a girl who I have never met.
So many people have reached out to me this week to tell me that they love me. I challenge all of you to remind your loved ones how much you love them, everyday. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Kayla Jean Mueller. In death, she has taught this Kayla Mueller so much about life.