Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by First Lady Jill Biden at Surfside Remembrance Event

The White House

Surfside, Florida

Good morning. Hidden in crowds-scattered throughout workplaces, and grocery stores, and parks-there is a fellowship of loss.

To the uninitiated, we look normal, average, whole. But like a secret handshake, I can spot them-by the sadness that rests at the corner of their smile. By the curve of their shoulders, as if they can still feel the small arms of a child wrapping around their neck.

And though we are strangers, we know untellable truths about one another: That we will spend the rest of our lives longing for a face that’s gone forever-and that when they left our world, they took a light inside of us with them.

There are some who might say that the hurt fades over time. But we know that’s not true. There is a collapsed star spinning inside of us, and we will forever live in its gravity.

The things we carry are heavier now. And one year later-or many years later-our knees sometimes buckle beneath the weight of our grief.

Still, we have discovered moments of grace too. Somehow, and against all odds, we rise from the floor. We find a fortitude that we didn’t know we had-and we reach out for help. We realize that we’re not alone.

Today, we gather to remember the 98 people lost.

On behalf of my husband, President Biden, whose heart and prayers have never left this community, we stand with you today and always. And as we gather, we express gratitude for this community:

The fire fighters and other first responders who bound up wounds and spent weeks working to recover your loved ones.

The members of Surfside who came together to embrace you-who prayed for you every night, and wrapped their arms around you.

The Americans from across our country who donated and found ways to spread kindness.

We honor the light you found in each other-a fellowship you never wanted to be a part of, but draw strength from just the same.

If there is something strong enough to help us carry the burden of grief forward-something able to break its gravitational pull-it’s love.

The love that makes us tell that story one more time, that makes us laugh with tears in our eyes, and knows a part of them is still inside of us, even though they left before we were done needing them.

The love of the friends and family who refuse to leave us alone, who remind us that joy can be found even in sorrow.

The love of a community that lifts us when we’re weak-that carries us.

Take it one breath at a time. We are praying for you and grieving with you.

God bless you.

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