12.14.2012

Tragic Day

This morning I came home from work and sat down to check Facebook and saw breaking news on channel 5's newsfeed about an elementary school shooting. I stared at my phone in disbelief. Wait.... did that say ELEMENTARY school? Then I kept reading and the initial report was 18 kids were dead along with 8 adults. WHAT?! They said they were holding a press conference at 11. It was 11 so in a shocked panic I turned on the tv and sat down.

I can't put into words how it affected me. I cried for two hours non-stop. Just as I was about to get a grip, they'd release new information or show new pictures or interviews with students and I would lose it again. These were children. Young, innocent, beautiful children. Children like my sweet Kennedy who was running around shooting me looks of confusion as I sat on the couch with stunned tears running down my cheeks. They had their whole life to live!

But the sobs didn't come until they said the majority of the killed children were kindergarteners. 5 and 6 year olds. Children who are just learning how to tie their shoes and write their names. Children who still cry because they miss their parents and don't want them to leave them at school. I couldn't control my emotions as I sobbed and sobbed. That's the same age as my niece. I taught kindergarteners in Logan and first graders at Legacy. They're the sweetest little things. Someone mercilessly pointed a gun at them and pulled the trigger. 5-6 year olds had to watch their friends die. They witnessed carnage I can't even fathom.

As I saw footage of the parents rushing to find their kids in sheer terror and their cars parked in a panicked hurry, barely off the streets, not remotely in an orderly manner, I cried again as a parent. I never want to experience getting news that my kids were in danger and I didn't know if I would get good news or the worst news of my life. I ached for them. I still do. I keep thinking of the children who survived who won't really understand where their friends are and why they won't come back to school. I think of the few who survived in the classroom who now have almost no class left. I wanted to hold Kennedy as tight as I could and never let her go. As a parent, this tragedy is awful enough.

But what really got me, and made me cry and cry, was my experience as a teacher. I've taught kids that age. I've practiced fire drills and earthquakes drills. We even talked about lock down procedures and where to hide in case someone "bad" came into the school. I hated practicing all of those because just the practice and thought of that happening scared the kids. You could see it all over their faces. Each fire drill would result in tears. Lockdown discussions would lead to worried questions and nervous looks at the door. It freaked them out.

It was my biggest fear as a teacher that we'd have a disaster like an earthquake or a shooting, where I would be solely responsible for the safety and lives of those kids. The love you develop for your students is amazing and the thought of one of them getting hurt was too much to handle, much less them dying. Sometimes I would sit and think about what I would do. I knew without a doubt that I would do everything I could to protect them. It scared me, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking, "but no one would ever really shoot up an elementary school. An earthquake could happen but probably not a shooting."

But here we are. It happened. The terror of the students and the teachers is what stopped me in my tracks. I could see myself in their situation, trying to hide all the kids safely where no one could find them, trying desperately to keep them quiet even though they're screaming and crying in fear so they don't attract attention. They said teachers were telling their students to walk out with their eyes covered so they wouldn't have to see any of the horrible scene around them. There were pictures of classes coming out being led by their teachers, holding each other on a line with most of the kids crying. That would be hands down, the worst thing as an educator. I've seen the panic and fear with just talking about bad things happening in the classroom. I can't even imagine what they went through. I can't imagine the pain those teachers are facing. I can't imagine the after affects the students will experience. I get sick for the officers who are in charge of the investigation, who have to see those 18 little bodies on the floor. Not to mention the adults who died as well. The whole thing is tragic and senseless and rocked me to the core. It rocked our whole nation.

I don't understand why these things happen. I don't know why all those kids lost their lives today. But I know they went straight to live with God. I also know I'll be holding Kennedy tighter tonight and praying for the families involved, as well as thanking The Lord I still have my baby. Because the parents of 20 precious souls don't have their babies anymore. This was a horrible event that happened today. I know that's part of this world we live in, and one of the signs of the times, but it doesn't make it any easier to process. I just hope I can make it through life without it happening to my family.

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