During my lunch yesterday, a few teachers asked me if I heard the news. I had not. I briefly scanned the headlines and started crying right then. I could not do this right now. I had my babies coming back in so I had to push all emotion away and get through the rest of my day plus a meeting. It was strange. One asked if she could have an extra hug. One hopped up on my lap to tell me he loved me. I hadn’t said a thing, but I hugged them tighter.
When I got off work, I did not check headlines as I had plans with my family. I headed straight home. We were having a family night that we had planned in advance with my parents, brother, and niece. On the car ride up to the special place known as Christmas Town, I started crying and couldn’t stop. My daughter told me they had a moment of silence at school today and we discussed the event. I told her of how I never stopped worrying about her. I told her about September 11, 2001 when she was just a baby and how I had to finish the day before I could get her. I told her about a lock-down I was once in that was real, but luckily it was just because something was happening in a nearby house. I told her about the meeting I had just been in the day before and I started crying more. I met with a man who started the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence. We had just mentioned Columbine and Tech the day before. We were talking about how to get families involved in their children’s lives and how to notice the warning signs. I also told her that I would, should this ever happen to me, defend my students by taking a bullet if necessary. I told her that I loved her dearly, but my job was to protect my students.
After this, family night seemed so important and yet so difficult for me. My heart is so heavy. The tears were pricking the back of my eyelids all night. I would make it a little bit through, and then I would feel the tears silently slide down my cheeks again and again. A hot toddy was pressed into my hand and I forced myself to close off the part of my brain that was thinking about this. I made it through dinner and then we crossed the bridge. The air was crisp, the smell of pine was in the air, lights were on every tree and the words Peace on Earth reflected across the water. I lost it again. The tears were silent and I turned to my mom who was also sad. I just sat there with my head on her shoulder for a minute. Then she said the words “What if that was your child? Can you imagine?” No, I can’t. I can’t.
The night ended with a family snuggle. Two kids, three dachshunds and one mom and dad in the bed. For now, I am on media blackout. I only know what I was told. I also know that last night, every single friend was thinking about this as well. My friends with children, my friends struggling to have children, my teacher friends, my left and right friends, my friends around the world. Before the numbness wears off remember how we all feel now. There was no peace on Earth last night for me.
“There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower