“Today, a sad man detached himselffrom the world, and took his pain, and his anger, and his frustration out on children at my school. Children I’ve spoken with weekly. Children who had amazing potential and talent. Children who had a bright future. Tomorrow is never promised today. Hug your loved ones, and make today count. Evil comes unexpectedly, and while you can’t change the course of what happens, you can make a difference every day. You can make your teacher smile, like these poor kids had. And you can make a difference with those around you, no matter who you are”
The evening of the day it happened, I’d sought support from those close to me, and tried to view it all with melancholic positivity. In the days afterwards, I’ve spiraled, and watched others do the same. People react in all different ways, as they must in the moment, and what I’ve learned most is how constantly changing the process is. Alcohol can bring out the frustration and anger, while a community can evoke support and emphasize on the good that was lost. A table of grieving individuals will meander together down paths of speculation as they attempt to rationalize the senselessness, each taking a break from the search to express their frustration or sadness.
Through the kaleidoscope of reactions, the faculty of our school ultimately learned we weren’t alone in this pain, and in some ways, it has been like I’m truly meeting these people for the first time after a year of working together. Innocence, security, nostalgia, and our end of year goodbyes had all been stolen from us, but we came together. The community showed its solidarity too, as the site of the tragedy became memorialized with flowers in an overwhelming response of sympathy. It has been these reverberations that have permeated the grief, and given the spark of hope.
If I had any message, I guess it would be this; as the shock hits in waves, you must give yourself permission to enjoy what’s around you in between the lows. You’re not dishonoring those poor boys by finding joy in the other aspects of your life, and there is no betterment in dwelling without reprieve. Should you be able to, you have a responsibility to yourself to allow yourself to be present, to laugh or enjoy whatever you’re doing, rather than constantly revolve around what happened. It’s alright to fully take part in the highs. And if that makes you feel guilty in any sort of way, don’t worry… those lows will sucker punch you when you least expect it, so there’s no need to purposefully redirect yourself down into them should you find momentary peace. Don’t judge yourself for floundering, nor for flourishing. The duality of it all is just part of working through it, and living for the good.
The unexpected upside of all of this? No pundits. No debate. No policy arguments. No politicization of lost lives. Just sorrowful unity. I guess authoritarianism ain’t so bad sometimes.