I was out of state when the school shooting in Newtown occured. I heard about it first through a text from one friend and a phone call from another. I was not in a place where I could go to a TV and really, didn't want to know right then. I knew there was nothing I could do. I had watched the Twin Towers stand burning, then, one by one, fall. I was glued to my TV that day, school shut down, everyone staying inside. I was supposed to meet my Thesis Advisor for the first time at SCSU that day. I remember all those details and yet watching my TV didn't help any of the people whose lives were changed that day. It didn't help the kids who I had taught gymnastics to in Chappaqua lost parents and relatives.
So, when I got the news, I went on with my day, after hugging my kiddos (as we were together), saying a few quiet words to my spouse and deciding to drop the morning's stupid argument between us, whatever it had been. That night, kids tucked in, I looked up some information and cried a bit. On and off the next couple of nights, I wanted to know more to try to wrap my mind around it. I wanted to feel like I could put it to rest with some sort of reason or rationale. Which, of course, is impossible. I mean, we haven't even heard tale of any sort of note or anything, and by not wearing body armor does that mean anything? I don't know.
We decided our little one didn't need to know about this at all. I finally told my elder daughter just a tiny bit when I thought she'd seen the headlines on the TV in a lobby. I told her that something terrible had happened and yes, she had seen that girl's photo before, she and other children and some teachers were killed (or did I say shot?) at school. And that I wanted her to hear it from me. And to let me or her dad know if she had any questions. I think that's all I said. Then she said, "All I heard was that there might be a snow storm."
Like many other schools, picking my kids up involves a different proceedure now. I'm fine with that. I know that what happened was pretty random, but I like knowing the principal is doing something to try to keep my precious, one-of-a-kind, amazing children safe. Frankly, this may be the very first time she and I are on the same page. Yes, it has caused our dismisal to feel rushed and stressful and, because of the half hour drive home, my little one has peed on the side of the road at least once so far because I can't meet her in her classroom and make sure she's gone before we leave....
I keep thinking about the kids and the EMS responders and how tragic it is that adults tried to shield children to no avail. And how CSI folk and who ever it is who gets the job of cleaning up saw the results of that and will remember it forever and may not be acknowledged as additional victims of that day. Each of the responders, the neighbors, the evauation site staff... each of them with memories etched, and of course the ones who survived either near or far from what was going on. And as humans we're good at guilt. I bet there are a couple folks wishing they'd done X or Z and maybe, maybe it would have helped. I wouldn't blame my kids' teachers for protecting themselves for the sake of their own families, but I would saint the one who would think fast and manage, by some miracle, to keep my little ones safe.
These are the thoughts that have kicked around inside my head since bringing my kids back to their school. And I do worry. I teach too. Is my job a risky one? No hazard pay, that's for sure. What would I do for my students to try to keep them safe? Where would my mind go? What would I do? Would I try to send one text to my family? Have I loved my kids enough? Do they know that?
The only good thing that has come from this in my own life is that I have paused. and taken breaths. and reminded myself of how dear my children are to me and how I want them to know that I love them. And I want to be better at finding ways for them to see that 100% of the time, or close to it. These poor kids who are going to school missing friends and siblings, these poor teachers and staff and oh, heavens, the parents. I never would have felt this incident as I do if I didn't have my own children. If they weren't so close in age to my daughter.
I think I am finally getting my tears out today. I really don't know why this is hitting me so hard, but it is. My thoughts and heart continues to go out to the folks -- all of them -- impacted by this, and I set the intention of healing for all of us, as a state, as a nation, as a world. Let us try to be kind to one another. Perhaps that can begin to make a difference.