(MENAFN) For 19-year-old college student Kylie Ossege, Blaze, a 13-year-old American Quarter Horse, represents a sanctuary of comfort in a world that has been profoundly affected by the trauma of two deadly mass school shootings in Michigan. The first occurred during her senior year at Oxford High School in 2021, and the second, just 14 months later, transpired as she began her freshman year at Michigan State University. Blaze, her equine companion since 2019, has become more than a pet — he's her steadfast source of solace and support.
Ossege, in a poignant display of connection, gently brushes Blaze's forehead and plants a kiss between his eyes. “I feel very at home when I’m with him,” she confides, describing Blaze as her best friend. In a life shattered by bullets and marked by haunting memories, Blaze serves as a constant and calming presence.
Time, however, hasn't proven as kind a companion to Ossege. Memories of the 15 agonizing minutes she spent wounded in an Oxford High School hallway persist, a relentless echo of the tragic event. The physical pain she endures daily, a lasting consequence of the ordeal, compounds the emotional toll. Severely wounded during the November 30, 2021, attack, Ossege recalls hearing what sounded like a balloon popping before falling to the ground. Beside her lay classmate Hana St. Juliana, who tragically lost her life in the shooting.
Pinned down by a heavy backpack filled with textbooks and a laptop, Ossege was unable to move or feel her legs during what she describes as the longest 15 minutes of her life. Eventually rescued, she spent the ensuing six weeks recovering in a Pontiac hospital, a duration longer than any of the other six Oxford students and a staff member injured in the attack. Four lives were lost in the tragedy, including Ossege's partner in a bullying prevention program, Tate Myre.
Ossege, resolute and determined, has chosen not to utter the name of the shooter, an Oxford student named Ethan Crumbley. Instead, she intends to deliver a powerful in-person victim impact statement during his upcoming sentencing hearing on December 8, a testament to her strength and commitment to reclaiming agency over her narrative. Through the trauma and pain, Blaze remains a steadfast companion, offering Ossege a sense of home and healing as she navigates the challenging path toward recovery.
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