Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sometimes it just hits out of nowhere

...and sometimes there's a trigger.

It's been nearly 2 months since that awful day at RHS.  In that time, I've dealt with my feelings - feelings of fear, guilt, shame, many feelings, all rolled up into one big jumbled mess.  The biggest thing I've had to deal with is survivor's guilt or, more aptly, "I was never in any danger so why the heck do I feel like this?" guilt.

I've been in the building many times this summer.  Going inside was not a huge deal.  My room is back to normal, I've seen my kids and had great times with them (we won a prize for our entry in the parade!) and in general life is back to normal.

And then, when you least expect it...

Ricky and I like to choose a show to watch together.  Because of our crazy, erratic work schedules, it's easiest if we choose something we can watch online on our own timeline.  Recently we started watching Six Feet Under.  Tonight we started season 3.

The show is the story of the Fisher family, who own and operate a funeral home.  Each episode starts with the death of someone who will then be taken to Fisher and Sons funeral home for embalming, viewing, funeral, - whatever the family wishes.  Each episode chronicles that particular family, deceased and death and how it's affecting the members of the family.  It's pretty brilliant, actually.

But season 3...well, episode 2 of season 3 starts with deaths caused by a shooting in a workplace, similar to what we went through.  I made it through that part though I had to focus on my breathing, but I did make it.

Later, two of the funeral directors were meeting with the family.  When one funeral director realized that they were meeting with the family of the shooter, he started to refuse to have the funeral there.  Later, talking with the other funeral director, he said "maybe if they had raised him better...."

And with that, I said, "I can't."  I can't watch this anymore, I can't handle it, I just can't.

It wasn't just the attitude.  The entire thing was bringing back everything we went through.  How awful the media was, how they lied to parents, saying they were the FBI, in an attempt to get the kids' phone numbers.  How they interviewed our kids, who were clearly in shock.  How they stood across the street, because they weren't allowed inside the church, and took paparazzi-esque photos of my students, my babies, in tears as they entered the funeral of their friend.  How Oregon Live - yes, I'm calling you out - LIVE TWEETED the funeral of one of our students.

The disrespect, the inability to grieve in all came back in that instant. That they got their information from Twitter when they couldn't get information any other way because we all sat in lockdown.  That a news person out of New York called the spouse of one of our administrators and lied about being the police so that he could call the administrator and try to interview that person while most of our school was still locked inside a building.

I get that the world wants news.  I understand that.  You all wanted answers.  So did we.  But really, after it's all said and done, isn't it enough?  Can't you just leave us alone??

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

I thought we'd get to see forever
But forever's gone away
It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday
--Boyz II Men

We had a candlelight vigil tonight as a way to get together with our community and begin our path to healing from the horrible event at our school one week ago.  A week of questions, anger, fear, exhaustion, and yes, sorry and tearful good-byes, it's been a tough one to say the least.

But one of our recent graduates read this poem tonight, and it spoke to me instantly.

Death is Nothing at All
by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I, 
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other, 
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, 
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval, 
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

There are no words

It's been nearly two years since I've written.  For that, I am immensely sorry.  Tonight is not a time for catching up though, it's a time for getting thoughts out.

There was a shooting at my school today.  I am safe, the students who were in my room are safe, and in fact 99.9% of the students at my school are safe.  One student was killed, one gunman is dead, and one teacher was injured.  Given that the shooting occurred just minutes before school started, we had potentially 2200 students and 150+ staff on campus.  That there were so few casualties is incredible, but the fact that we lost even one life to a gunman is tragic.

Sometime soon I will record the events as I know them.  I was across campus so I don't know much, but I would like to record my thoughts.  Tonight, though, I want to focus on the good.

Todd Rispler, my coworker, was grazed by a bullet in the hip.  Even so, he ran to the office and alerted them that we had an active shooter.  This initiated the lockdown, and it all happened within minutes of the shooter walking into the gym area with a gun.  This undoubtedly saved lives.

All of the students and teachers  responded as prescribed to the lock down.  I can't speak for every classroom, but I know my room was quiet and calm.  Of course students were upset, but they were under control and compliant, which is a huge feat given that we had very little information and lots of rumors were swirling via social media.

The area law enforcement agencies who came in to help us were professional and authoritative but also gentle and sensitive to the situation.  They were thorough but efficient, which meant we weren't stuck inside without any knowledge longer than we had to be.

The church across the street opened their arms to us.  They let us gather in their parking lot to await transportation away from school.  They opened their restrooms to us, they brought us water, and they made sure we had what we needed.

Trimet arrived with buses to take students and then staff away to the staging area, where we could reunite students with their families and begin to figure out what next.

Wood Village Fred Meyer cordoned off an area of their parking lot for us.  That area was used to reunite students with parents.  It was also the place for staff to gather to get food, water and information.  Fred Meyer employees brought us lots (and lots and lots and lots) of water, cookies, veggies, chips...all kinds of things that we hadn't realized we needed.  By that point it was 1 or 1:30 pm and we were all suddenly starving.  None of us had eaten since the lock down started.

Subway provided sandwiches.  Buffalo Wild Wings brought out chicken.  I saw burgers or something though I'm not sure where they came from.  The Salvation Army was there to lend a shoulder, an ear, and make sure we were all staying hydrated.

One of the middle schools in our district, my former school in fact, let us gather in the cafeteria so we had a private indoor place to meet and debrief.  When we arrived there, we had more water, bananas, apples, other food items that didn't really register, and Starbucks had provided coffee.

My friends and family from across the country, who texted and messaged me to check in, sending love and prayers, and who understood when I was short with them and very light on answers.  Knowing you were thinking of us, being able to stay connected to the outside world, meant so much.

My sweet friend Chrissy, who has offered me her car if I need it, as mine is still stuck at work (along with my wallet and keys).  She continued to check on me throughout the day and updated our other friends so I didn't have to.

And of course my incredible parents, who were there the minute I called.  My dad drove out to our area when I knew that I wouldn't be able to take my car and waited in a nearby coffee shop for about an hour until I was able to leave, all so that the minute I was able to leave I could, instead of having to wait for him to make the 30-45 minute drive out there.

Yes, today was awful, but out of the ashes the Raiders and our community will rise.