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."