(WUSA) -- Of the 32 victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre five years ago, six of them were from Northern Virginia:

  • Erin Peterson and Reema Samaha from Westfield High School in Centreville.
  • Mary Read from Annandale High School
  • Leslie Sherman of West Springfield High School
  • Maxine Turner from James Madison High School in Vienna
  • And Daniel Cueva from Hylton High School in Woodbridge

Erin Peterson's mother says losing her child is like a really bad physical injury. It starts to heal and then a day like today comes along, and the wound is broken open again.

Celeste Peterson says the silence in their Centreville home still horrifies her. It was once filled with the joy and laughter of her daughter Erin.

"When we lost Erin, our world was crushed. We went on a tailspin, and didn't have anything to hold on to," said Peterson.

Erin had gone to the same high school as the tormented student who chained the doors at Norris Hall and opened fire. But while Seung Hui Cho was descending into madness, Erin was celebrating her freshman life at Virginia Tech, and dreaming her international studies degree would give her a chance to make the world a better place.

Peterson says her daughter had a, "Gregarious nature, huge smile, 6'1". Her friends tell me how they miss her hugs."

Mary Read dreamed of making the world better too. She loved children and wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Her father wears a pin with her initials. Her siblings are five years older, but memories of Mary are frozen in time.

"The thing that isn't different is that Mary's not here. And so that hole in our family is still there," says her father Peter.

"One day is the same as any other day. We don't miss her any less," says Celeste

People with good intentions often talk to grieving parents about "closure." But the aching pain of a lost child rarely goes away.

"It heals over, ever once in a while, you knock against it, open it back up and it has to heal again, " says Celeste Peterson.

Both the Read and Peterson families -- and the families of many other victims -- have created scholarships at Virginia Tech in their children's names. And so they continue to help other young people -- a living memorial to lives taken way too soon.

Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com

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