Coping

I’ve tried to avoid writing this entry and I do so now, not because I want to, but rather because I need to.

Home alone last weekend as the news of the school shooting rang out, I chose to ignore it. I didn’t turn on the television or radio and avoided the internet news and posts per the subject. Two days later, when my husband returned home and turned on the TV, I left the room each and every time reports of the shooting were aired. I simply ignored them, worked frantically on my business and avoided the inevitable. It was as though I put up a concrete wall to protect my emotions from the pain so many felt. Yet, that wall was a porous, constructed subconsciously as a useless shield.

I managed quite well until Monday when the funerals began and I finally cried. It was as though the faces of those young children shown on television were those in my own classrooms so many years ago. Those faces still reside in my memory box although the children are now grown or well on their way to adulthood. I remember all the angels and the rascals and would have protected them with all my might.

I cried not only for the parents and grandparents of the lost children and adults, but also for those at the school and what they now face. It is possible that some of those children will never resume the emotional stability that is their birthright. The spiral of evil, initiated by a single young man, will likely continue to effect many in ways we will never comprehend.

As I think about my own former students, I cannot help but recognize my own fear of and for a very few of them. As a teacher, I approached mental health carefully yet forthrightly, speaking with parents and counselors when I sensed deep seeded issues in a child. While parents usually listened to my concerns, I don’t know of any instance where they took action to seek professional help for their children. Now, I cannot help but wonder what type of people these youngsters became and whether I should have pushed harder to get help for them. Yet, it is a rough ride on the horse of guilt if you choose to consider the “what ifs”. What if I missed a child who called out for help? Was he or she the one capable of horrific deeds? What if I missed the actions of a parent toward a child that I might have saved? What if, I was just too wrapped up in my own life to recognize problems that grow until they become destructive?

It’s too late for me; my days in the classroom are past; yet I hope that teachers will always care enough to trust their instincts and that parents will care enough to listen and act if things do not seem quite right with their offspring. I believe we are all trying.

. . . and so I write because it helps me recognize what I’m feeling. I write because it guides me toward healing. I write because I care.

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