Friday, December 21, 2012

Thoughts after Tragedy

My blog is pretty much used to document our everyday lives and to show off pictures of my sweet boy, and usually it is pretty mundane and uninteresting, unless someone has a specific interest in seeing our family.  Therefore, it impossible for the events of last Friday not to make an appearance here.  I am not eloquent and have no words of wisdom, but I have to get something on "paper" if for no other reason than to make some sense of my feelings.

Honestly, I have avoided thinking, reading, and dwelling on the tragedy, mainly because I cannot seem to process it.  Last Friday I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, eagerly awaiting the arrival of my dear friend Carrie-Nell's baby girl, Laura Elizabeth, when the news broke in on the television.  The irony of seeing such tragedy on a day of joy and anticipation of new life was not lost on me.

As both a teacher and a mother, I feel two different yet strikingly similar reactions.

As a teacher, I mourn for the teachers and aides who have lost their lives, and for the ones who didn't, those who lost a sense of safety in what is supposed to be a secure learning environment.

It isn't the first time I have thought about what I would do in such a situation.  Would I be brave enough to protect my students, no matter the cost to myself.  I often don't even call them students, even though they are high schoolers.  They are simply my "kids."  One of the most poignant things I heard in the last few days when it comes to teachers is that a teacher was asked why she would offer to put herself in front of her students in such a situation.  She replied that she already knew where she was going, and if she could give her students even another moment, another hour, or another day to make such a decision for themselves, it would be worth it.  Ultimately, this is why many of us choose to teach: not to "cover" content, but instead to have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our students.

As a mother, this tragedy has taken on a whole new meaning.  Rather than finding myself exhausted and frustrated at the end of the day, I have been reminded to sit down and read a book, destroy Connor's room with blocks, make a mess with Playdoh, and hold him a few minutes longer before putting him to bed.  I am remembering not to take these moments for granted, because not only are they passing by more quickly than I ever thought possible, but there may not be the opportunity of another day.  Life is fleeting.  I was reminded that on June 14, 2012, with the loss of the sister of one of my lifelong best friends, and I was reminded that same fact again last Friday.

Now, just as in June, the only thing I know to do is to trust in God.  "But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction."  --Job 36:15

The little news I have caught of parents who lost their children have had a common theme: all of the parents remarked how blessed they were to be the parents to these children and how they were the light of their lives.  Isn't that exactly how I would describe Connor?

My heart aches, and yet the fact that I am still here means that I still have hope...hope of another day to love those around me, to hold Jason and Connor tighter, to be kind to strangers, to become a better teacher, and to share the gifts, no matter how small, God has given me with the world, starting with the little boy who calls me "Momma."

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