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.
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.