It wrecked me. A teacher of elementary students myself, I could hardly breathe. For days.
I leaned on the conversations and wisdom of others as they also tried to process the unfathomable. Blogs like this http://www.bostern.com/blog/2012/12/15/god-with-us/ began to help me to breathe again.
I floated through the week in a bit of a dream like sad-state, smiling longer at my students, holding their hands, spending longer tying their shoes, giving more hugs, and attempting to savor each, beautiful, precious child in my care.
It has felt like time slowed as grief over these precious souls dampened the carefree flow of the usual Holiday season.
Today was the first time in a week that I ventured out to shop, do a few errands, and intersect with the hustle and bustle of the life that always buzzes outside my school walls. The news is a barage of all the bad, the ugly, the evil of this world. But the hair salons, stores, and even the DMVs of America are actually all full of good American people.
Yes - even the DMV waiting room that I had to sit in this morning, 4 days before Christmas, because my license is expiring on my birthday's unfortunate date of 5 days after Christmas, is full of GOOD. When at last my number was called, I learned that the DMV does not take Visa (but I thought that Visa is Everywhere You Want To Be.) Ok, it's official, the DMV is clearly not where anyone ever wants to be... They take cash or checks. Period. The state I reside in, I now know, does not accept Visa. So what's that say about my state of residence? But I digress.
My mind silently complained, "but I sat here for 10 people to painfully and slowly have their turn - do I have to go to my bank and return and wait my turn again?"
Then I heard a voice, "Hi. I don't want to meddle but how much money do you need?" I turned to see a kind-faced older gentleman standing with his wife in a wheel chair beside him. I'd find out in a few minutes that this kind man's name was Bob. When I smiled and sheepishly said, "but I am short $15! It's OK sir.", he didn't miss a beat, opened his wallet and handed me a $20 bill, telling me to keep the change.
So, for 7 more years I will have a HORRIBLE picture because my makeup got all smeared with my tears...and for 7 years I will think of Bob and his simple $20 bill that blew me away.
Bob is the fabric of America - there are Bobs in every store, restaurant, street, school of America. In this world.
Another classic American moment, had already happened earlier in the morning. I was getting my hair cut at my friend's salon. Through the tears we shared together over my current challenges (her tears were for me. You know you are in the presence of a soul-mate friend when your own tears are mirrored in their eyes.) and the encouragement she showered me with, her salon was just as much a place to get a great hair cut as it was a place to get your heart healed.
Then it was her turn to share. She has suffered with major back pain for nearly two decades. She doesn't have Physical Therapy coverage. No problem.
This is small town America. Her PT is trading PT appointments for haircuts. It doesn't add up but in his mind it does - he's trading time.
She cuts his hair and he fixes her back so she can get out of her bedridden state.
Thank you Friday for reminding me that for all the evil that exploded in Connecticut one week ago, there is infinitely more good.
Check this movement out to spread the kindness: https://www.facebook.com/26acts