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Remembering Brianna

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Brianna Cuoco was last seen Jan. 18 at 1 a.m. After months of searching and wondering what happened, she was found, but not in the condition everyone had hoped. They found the body of 18-year-old Brianna in the Connecticut River on April 21. Her death is being investigated, but so far, no one has much information. 

When I first heard about this, I was left in shock. I went to school with her. I passed her in the hallways of Chicopee Comprehensive High School. Every time I saw her, she would be smiling and happy.

It is hard to believe that someone who was so lively could be gone in a flash. I did not know her very well, but it still hurts. I feel pain for the family and friends of this girl who is gone too soon.

Her friends, family, and others gathered to remember her on Friday, April 29. Karlee Hamlin and Amber Daletto, two of Briie’s friends, held a vigil for people who could not attend the private service, but still wanted to say their goodbyes. I spoke with Karlee and Amber earlier last week about the vigil and their friendship with Briie.

Karlee Hamlin said that she didn’t expect the vigil to become so big; she thought she would make a Facebook page and that was that, but it was more work than she thought.

“I didn’t mind doing it because I realized how much people care and want to say goodbye,” Hamlin said.

She added that she hoped people would reach closure through this, and that she wanted it to be a positive celebration of Brianna’s life.

“She was so outgoing, but shy at times, and she was nice to everyone,” Karlee said. “She was the definition of a free spirit.”

When asked what one of her favorite memories of Briie was, Karlee recounted a time she saw her at a fast food restaurant.

“That was the last time I saw her. She was happy and excited to go to college and major in art,” Amber said.

Amber described Briie as “a ball of joy and crazy.” Her favorite memory of Brianna was when Amber helped her move into a new house.

“We decorated her room and just talked about how she wished the world could be a better place,” she said.

I attended the vigil—held at her school—last Friday, and I’m glad I did. It was beautiful. There were lit candles and pictures of Briie, as well as stuffed animals. People could write notes to the family to give them encouraging words to read during this rough time, and you could donate money to help them pay for the funeral.

Over 300 people went to pay their respects. People painted things in honor of the talented artist, and brought glow sticks because she loved bright colors. It was a heartbreaking, yet heartwarming, night for all who went.

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