December 14, 2012 by CassieCravings
I ushered my students in from recess. The news of the tragedy in Connecticut had just been released. As I closed the classroom door, I double checked that it was locked. I opened and closed it one more time before I took the time to simply watch them as they chattered, giggled, gossiped, squirmed and settled. A boy let an airplane soar out his hands. I normally would give a bit of a fuss and spill on better choices. Today I soaked in the sheer joy on his face as it landed on the other side of the room. He caught my gaze and sheepishly stuffed it into his pocket.
There they were: 23 innocent, little faces all in neat rows. Their parents kissed them goodbye this morning and trusted me to further their learning and to keep them safe. I gulped down the responsibility of it.
A bouncing blonde headed girl gave me a super squeezing hug. She did this every afternoon as they came in. But today I held her extra tight. “You know that I love, Mrs. Ortiz,” she grinned. “And you know that I love you,” I finally croaked out, “Of all of the little girls in the school, I’m so glad that I get to have you.” I’ve told her this a hundred times. I’ve told each of my children this countless times, but today I savored the words. Today I looked directly into those blue eyes, so unaware of evil, and carefully enunciated every word so that none would be lost.
Our classroom carried on as if the world had not stopped.
I reviewed procedure for heading a spelling test. On my computer, CNN flashed pictures and words of sheer horror. My voice cracked as I called out the words. I paused to regain composure. A dear friend texted me to turn off the computer. She knows me too well.
The laptop was closed, and I looked out at my 23 children. Restless feet tapped as they scribbled the words onto crisp notebook paper. Eraser dust flew as it was swept away by careful hands. A hand raised in the air. It impatiently waved for recognition, “Uhhh…Mrs. Ortiz. You gonna’ say the next word?”
As we continued the test, I found myself getting lost in the tragedy of today. It took my breath away to watch my precious children simply be children. They took their spelling test as they have done for the last 14 spelling test of this school year. They buzzed about after the papers were collected in anticipation of going to the library. They laughed, fussed and played just as children should.
It doesn’t make sense that there are mothers and fathers who will not hold their babies tonight. It doesn’t make sense that Monday morning children will not want to go to school because they are afraid of what will happen. I craved answers, but I knew that no answer could possibly satisfy the “Why?”. I wanted to hold my own son so badly that my body ached for him.
Quietly I breathed a prayer for my students and for my son. I thanked God for each of them. I thanked God for the opportunity to hold them. I tried to pray for the families that are affected by this tragedy; I found no words. So, I simply sat.
Today our nation is mourning. Precious babies were ripped from their family’s lives. Heroic adults will not be going home to our families. This was a senseless, disgusting act of evil. Prayers are with all of those affected by this tragedy.