A year ago tonight, I was still innocent. I was still safe.
A year ago tonight, I went to sleep in a world where first graders gathered in the meeting area to listen to a story, not to die in a blaze of gunfire.
A year ago, I hadn’t yet checked my email while my students were outside at recess. I hadn’t yet read the news from Newtown, learning that a madman had massacred an entire classroom of little ones. I hadn’t yet recoiled in horror and disbelief, then rushed outside to check on the safety of MY kids.
A year ago, I hadn’t been forced to spend an afternoon with my ten year old charges, pretending that everything was OK. I hadn’t had to run to the copy room so that I could silently wipe my tears, trying to be strong for the children. I hadn’t yet had to wrestle with what I could possibly say to them to explain the madness.
A year ago, one short year ago, I hadn’t yet hugged my colleagues as we cried and grieved knowing that our last child was safely loaded onto the bus and sent home.
One year ago, I hadn’t yet stopped at the bank, where I failed to remember any of the information for the deposit slip. I hadn’t yet turned to the woman waiting impatiently behind me t0 try to explain my confusion. “I’m sorry”, I hadn’t yet said, “I’m a teacher…..this was a very hard day.” A year ago, I hadn’t yet had that stranger embrace me, putting her tear stained cheek on my shoulder. I hadn’t had the bank teller reach out to take my hand. Hadn’t had the man beside me at the counter hug me and say, “I’m so sorry.”
A year ago, I hadn’t yet gotten angry, and hadn’t yet declared that I would fight with every breath to make this country safer for little children. I hadn’t yet vowed that I would work to bring some sensible, logical gun laws into this insane society. I hadn’t yet promised that I would do whatever I could to take a stand against the NRA.
A year ago tonight, I was still just a teacher in a classroom.
A year ago, one eternally long year ago, 20 mothers hadn’t yet kissed their babies goodnight, never dreaming for one minute that it would be for the very last time.