The picture above was taken at 7:05 yesterday morning. It’s not photoshopped or Instagramed. The sky really looked that way as I drove to work. I reached my exit when I received a text message from CNN saying that Connecticut police were responding to a shooting at a Newtown elementary school.
I began teaching in 2001 in a small shoreline town in Connecticut. I have friends that I met there from Newtown. I said a quick prayer, and went to class.
Within two hours, the reports were endless. More and more kids. I sat I front of my students, my precious students who drive me insane sometimes. The same ones I bitch over after a rough day. I sat in front of them knowing what happened, while they worked diligently on Tom Sawyer persuasive essays, oblivious to the events on the other side of the country. I didn’t tell them. I consciously made this decision.
When events like yesterday happen, the rawness of previous events returns. We will never fully recover from Columbine or Virginia Tech or Aurora, or even other gun violence that we experience personally.
At the end of the day, I got in my car and broke down, which I needed to do. At the beginning of the summer, our school community lost one of our own, a 16 year-old former student who also happened to be my co-worker’s son. He was shot and killed by his uncle. I eluded to the murder on MWOAS but chose to not mention the details. But it brought up June again for me and all of us at school.
It brought up Columbine, as I was a senior in college at the University of Colorado and only 30 miles away. And my own terrifying experience with a gun that I have healed from. In fact, I wrote the experience into my novel last week.
Really, our hearts only scab over after a period of healing. The smallest scrape reveals the raw, and out pours the blood again. Thank God we have each other and experience that tells us we might not be able to breathe right now, but we will again.
I sat up with my dad for a long time last night. He knows my absolute fear of guns. He knows that I don’t even like seeing them. He stopped me from the whole gun control debate because yesterday, that kind of conversation was futile. Perhaps that’s a conversation down the line. We do need to figure things out in this country.
But we jump so quickly–knee-jerk reactions like saying this is a perfect reason people should homeschool, or that teachers should carry guns, or that guns should be banned altogether does not solve the fact that this guy, just like the others, was withdrawn, mentally ill, and hell bent on this horrific act. Retreating and pointing fingers only isolates us even more. We are so incredibly isolated in the 21st century. And THAT needs to be addressed.
I am not really that religious. I don’t know what else to do but pray for the victims, pray for the survivors, pray for the families and community, and pray for all of us to endure long enough to pick up the pieces and live strongly, bravely, and lovingly.
Peace and love.
El Condor Pasa–Simon and Garfunkel
In Your Light–Gotye
Only Sixteen–Sam Cooke
Hey Jude–The Beatles
Please Read the Letter–Allison Krauss and Robert Plant