I am full of rage this morning. Maybe the rage is protecting me from experiencing the horror and grief which is surely there, waiting to fill my consciousness.
What I am feeling today is too big for the page.
I’m offering this piece from 2019 instead. It was born on the floor of a classroom.
Final Thoughts (August 24, 2019)
They say your whole life passes before your eyes. In my case, it was a little different. It was my daughter’s life. I lay on the floor of a preschool classroom. I heard screams and the sounds of people running and furniture being pushed aside. Then, for a moment, I was briefly alone.
I lay there, my face against the cool linoleum floor and thought of my daughter. How she was at home, packing the last of her things for college. How I would have to drive her somewhere and leave her and our lives and relationship would never be the same.
She was the child of my old age, I used to joke. The child I had longed for all those years when I was divorced and dreaming of a stable, loving relationship and a new family. She burst onto the scene with jet black hair and star-sapphire eyes and, in so many ways, was a bundle of mysteries.
They say that childhood lasts such a brief time. When you are getting no sleep and losing your mind with the exhausting labor of it all, you wish someone would speed it up. You roll your eyes when someone waxes sentimental about those “precious moments”. You reach for another cup of coffee and wonder if you will ever sleep in again.
But I am probably dead or dying now, I think, as I lie on the floor of the school for young children where I now work. The shooter burst out of the bathroom and I was the first one hit. From the silence around me I’m guessing everyone else made it out alive. But I don’t know, and I’m afraid to look.
This is the world I’m giving my daughter. A world of mass shooters and death unprepared, where school and church, mall and workplace are all potential pits of blood and bodies. What kind of a parent am I? How can I simply pack her into a car and drop her off when I know I can do nothing to protect her?
The man with the bullhorn and the safety vest announces the simulation is over. I hear laughing and joking. Someone comes in to help me off the floor and asks if I am alright.
Today teachers will return to classrooms - - here in Howard County and all over this country - - burdened with the impossible task of teaching, comforting, guiding, supporting, and protecting the students in their care. All while struggling to manage their own grief and fear.
Oh, and rage. Rage that they must do this again and again while politicians refuse to put an end to it. Rage that there are people who consider this regular carnage to be sad but unavoidable collateral damage. Rage that the right to own a gun reigns supreme over children and teachers, shoppers at the grocery, commuters on the subway, those who pray and worship…
Rage that for some the gun is God and they choose to serve no other master.
As I said, some things are too big for the page today.
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