These last few days have been extremely challenging. The unspeakable has happened and it is hard to focus on anything else…even joyous things. I know that my grief about this horrific tragedy is not unique, but being a Kindergarten teacher and a mother has made this experience feel close to home.
Yesterday, I went to work for the first time since I heard about the shooting. Honestly, I dreaded going back to school because I didn’t want to cry. I knew it was important that I was strong for the parents that line up outside my door each morning with their most valued possession and then walk away trusting me with that gift.
When I pulled into my school parking lot, I was full of anxiety. A siren soaring by alerted me in an uncharacteristic way and I looked at my school in a new light. I knew that I would need to avoid my closest friends because I didn’t want to cry. I saw a dear friend in the parking lot and it was clear that she felt the same way. We could only touch on the events before we knew that the subject had to change if we were to make it through the morning.
As I unlocked my door, I questioned my decision. I have done this everyday for the last 20+ years without question and today I wondered about that decision. I looked at my classroom in a new light. The little desks and chairs that would soon be filled with young eager learners seemed especially empty. I looked at the doors that went into other classrooms and questioned the large windows that I usually love.
I took a few extra breaths before I greeted my students and their parents. Some of the parents had a numb expression that I had felt and others looked me straight in the eye as if to say, “I know it will be okay and thank you for being with my child.” I was glad to see my students and their smiles. I had to catch myself and switch my mindset because they looked so like the angels that were taken. The morning went quickly and I was composed and effective despite my heavy heart.
When it was time to go and they were bundled in their puffy coats and all lined up, we sang our “Goodbye Song.” I saw the waiting parents, who seemed just as relieved to have that first day back completed. The bus riders quickly boarded and I thought I had done it. The first day back would be the hardest and I did it without the outburst that I dreaded. Until…
I heard my little children on the bus calling for me. They were waving and saying that they loved me. This is when my overflowing emotions couldn’t be held back. I smiled and waved and hid the tears until I turned away.
Due to today’s snow day, I have already started Winter Break. My son’s last day is tomorrow and I can’t wait. We all need this time to be together and to think of better days ahead. I am still overwhelmed with sadness, but this sadness is turning to anger and I hope that we can begin to focus on what can be done to help prevent another tragedy like this one again.