Dec 17, 2012

The ones left behind

I've had the words spinning around my mind since it happened, making me nauseous. I cannot get them to stop. I have been trying to put them down in some form of organized structure, wanting to get it right. Needing to get it right . . .

Those children. Their parents. The survivors. That town.

I have lived in "that" town.

My neighbors were those parents.

My students were those survivors.

In 1996, I was an obnoxious 18 year old living in a different country and I can honestly say that I don't remember "that day", but 8 years later I moved to that tiny little town which is cozily nestled around the river Allan in beautiful Perthshire, Scotland.

Almost every person I have met (and even to this day, if someone asks), when I told them which town I lived in Scotland, they have reacted with raised eyebrows and have forced out a somber and deflated, "Oh."

And it has been sixteen years now.

It stains a small town forever; the name becomes synonymous with tragedy. All other beauties and triumphs are stolen and that is all that remains — to the outside world looking in, anyway.

I remember being taken aside on my first days of teaching. I was told names of students that had physical (and emotional) scars of which I was to "avoid" mentioning at all costs, and yet it still didn't really sink in. It wasn't until the moment that I actually saw those visible 9 year old scars on my then 17 year old students — that was one of the most difficult moments of my life. Fucking gun shot wounds on these children. I just wanted to pull them close and hug them, but of course, I couldn't do that. And I couldn't cry.

Teacher's college doesn't exactly prepare you for that — but really, is there anything that possibly could?

On the 10 year anniversary of that horrific day there was not an official memorial or gathering, but every resident quietly lit a candle in their windows as a tribute to those 16 children and 1 teacher that have not been forgotten.

And that night, as I walked my dogs around my dark and silent neighborhood, it glowed.

It glowed with sadness.
And love.
And loss.
And hope.

So after the events of Friday, I wept for the people of that town. I wept for a loss that I cannot possibly comprehend. And today, as I write these words, I weep for their future because that, I have lived in.


  1. So many words, yet none at all. Lives shattered, destroyed, forever changed.

  2. Beautiful words for an ugly, horrific situation--then and now.

  3. We all, try as we may, will never find the right words that can bring comfort to the victims and families.

    Never have I wept and cried for complete strangers as I have for those of this latest tragedy. I am forever changed because of it. The problem is that I don't know if the change is for the better or worse. So much anger in me! So much pain. I can't even begin to imagine how much pain those parents are.

    The world weeps.

  4. Thankfully, I live in a rural area, so we I witness very little violence. However, that's the kind of place Dunblane was. When things like Sandy Hook happen, I am reminded that no matter where I am or how safe I feel, there is always the possibility that my world could be turned upside down and shattered. And that terrifies me beyond belief. I am so sad that we live in a world where killing children is sometimes the only way a person can think of to make themselves feel better.

  5. This should not happen. It just shouldn't ever be something that should need words, or leave scars, or take lives. I'm beyond sad about this, all of this.

  6. Oh, Lady E. this is heartbreaking. I was just telling my husband today that teachers dont -- and shouldn't have to -- expect to confront gunmen in their jobs.

  7. I am finishing school in May hoping to start my teaching career in August and this scares me so badly. And you are right they don't prepare us for tragic events like this or how to handle tragic things that happen in our students home lives


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