The Whole Story

I wish I knew the whole story. How your life began. The circumstances surrounding your birth. How your big sister played with you. What you were like as a toddler.

When we first met, you were bossy and tall for your age. But you had a big smile and beautiful long, dark hair. You loved flying high on the playground swings. I’m glad for those moments of joy in your life.

Schoolwork did not come easy. You worked so hard. No matter what we tried, letters and numbers couldn’t find their way into your memory banks. Not long-term, anyway.

You enjoyed listening to stories and spending time playing pretend with your friends. Somehow, unphased by the lack of remembering academic details.

Traveling between Mexico and Oklahoma seemed to be the pattern. You, your mother, and your older sister. That must have been stressful and scary. Not knowing how long you would stay in one place or where you belonged.

I wish I knew the whole story. Why the older you grew, the less care you seemed to receive. Understanding there must have been challenges in raising a child with disabilities. But still, you deserved to be cared for and loved.

What love there was somehow faded with the birth of a new baby. Slowly turning to neglect and abuse. My heart breaks over what I do know.

You are unable to tell me your whole story. Only bits and pieces. Maybe I shouldn’t wish to know it. One thing I do know is you will always wear the scars. Yet, you still manage to smile. You give and receive love. And just maybe, that is the whole story. ❤️

Our sweet friend, Marie. So glad she is part of our lives.

A Matter of the Heart

I have a storage closet inside my music classroom. Shelves lining both walls hold musical instruments. There are stacks of chairs in one corner and drums in the other.

At various times in the year, certain sets come out.

There is a narrow walkway between the shelving.

More than once this school year, I’ve glanced in there with the following thought: would I be able to fit an entire class of students in here? I’m not sure. If I quickly moved some things out. But would there be enough time?

That is where I stop my spiraling thoughts. Any further, and they’d be unbearable.

Every day, I stand on the sidewalk outside my school. Along with colleagues and student volunteers, make sure kids get safely to their cars.

Several times during the year, I almost left my phone inside the building. But then one thought would invade-what if something happens? An emergency? And quickly, I’d put my phone in my back pocket.

I’m not the only one carrying the weight of such thoughts. But we rarely talk about them. Until another tragedy occurs and we realize it could have been our school, our students, or our friends.

I see the sweet faces of the Uvalde, TX victims in photos shared by loved ones. I see the desperation in the sobs of those left to mourn and question.

My heart breaks.

But my sadness quickly turns to anger as I listen to sound bites. As I hear political figures speak of rights instead of solutions, perpetrators instead of victims.

There are solutions. And please don’t tell me there are no laws or policy changes that would affect this epidemic of gun violence in our country. There are. And they are logical. Why do we refuse to take a stand in their favor? Well, that’s a matter of the heart.

https://www.nytimes.com/


Our descendants weep
As the blood
Of the innocent
Soaks the ground
Beneath the feet
Of misplaced allegiance

Only Tears

The sky wept
Thru the night
Quieting only
For moments
At a time
To take a quick
Breath of air
That offered
No relief

No lightening
To break
The vast darkness
No thunder
To break
The veil of grief
Only the tears
Of broken hearts
Forever flowing

It must have been raining all over the world.

When?

Another
School day
Filled with
Laughter
Learning
Love
Shattered
By sounds
Gunshots
Impact
Screams
Cries for help
Violent deaths
Followed by
Silence-
Children
Teachers
Hiding, frightened
Training put
Into action
Training
That should never
Have been necessary
For actions
That should never
Have occurred

When will we decide enough is enough?
When will we choose love instead of hate?
When will we weep instead of arguing?

Mourn for
Innocent lives
Left lying
On the floor
Of the very place
They should have been safe

Today was our last day of school. Smiles, tears, good-byes. Ready for summer break. I drove home, exhausted. And then, I heard the news of another school shooting at an elementary school.

Listening to the reports was heartbreaking. And then there was a comment about training. The fact that students and teachers were hiding as they practiced. The same drills I have had to discuss or practice with students. It should not be this way. 💔

Press Rewind

If only
It was
Possible
Press rewind
Go back in time
Prevent every
Unkind word
That left you
Confused
And alone
Block every
Raised hand
That left you
Hurt and afraid
Unable to defend
Yourself
From those charged
With your keeping-
But time cannot
Be rewound
Trauma cannot
Be erased
Does time heal all wounds?
I’m afraid some
Are too deep
If only
It was
Possible
Press rewind
Go back in time

There are stories of child abuse and neglect in the news daily. But one remains close to my heart. I have written about her before-my a former student. Here, I call her Marie out of respect for her privacy.

Marie recently turned eighteen. It seemed things were going well. Living in a good home with people who love her. And then something happened. Like a snap inside that could not be controlled.

There are no simple explanations. No simple solutions. And though this is something over which I have no control, I cannot give up hope. Hope for her future.

Morning News

I sit quietly
In my house
This morning
Drinking hot tea
Watching the morning news
Never having experienced the kind of fear
That would cause me to flee my home
Searching for a place of safety
A shelter under the ground
Where explosions above
That will destroy my home
And those of my friends and family
Cannot reach my children
I don’t know that kind of fear
Not fear of natural disasters
Unavoidable depending on location
But fear of weapons
Created by man
Neighbor against neighbor
Strong overtaking weak
Seeking what?
Power and greed
Seem the most common answers-
I sit quietly
In my house
This morning
Unable to erase the image
Of a precious little girl
On the morning news
Her big eyes filled with tears
Hiding underground
Unable to block
The sounds of bombs
Exploding on the surface
Perhaps I should not try
To erase her image
Instead, let it sear into my memory
Reminding me to pray for light
To find her in that dark place

Intrusion

Unwelcome thoughts interrupted my morning. In those early moments when it was unclear if I was awake or still dreaming. Images that made my heart sink.

An image of me trying to secure a class of elementary students in my storage closet. Was there enough room for everyone? Wait, there is a glass view window in the classroom door. Can I lock the closet door from the inside?

Next, my daughter is in a similar scene. Except hers is a high school special education classroom.

I know why these thoughts appeared today. 

A result of the news yesterday. 

Another school shooting…

There have been so many in our country, it is impossible to keep track. That statement makes me sad. And while I know I cannot live in that sadness, it must be acknowledged.

I choose not to live my life in the what if’s. Yet, as an educator, these stories are troubling. As a spouse and parent of educators, they are personal. For all of us, they are heartbreaking.

I do not write to offer a solution. Only to express my heart. The heart of a teacher who loves her students and would do anything to protect them. A teacher, like many others, who are tired of the ugly truths that bring these intrusive thoughts.

I am thankful for all the smiling faces that greeted me as they entered our beautiful school this morning. Those smiles helped push the sadness away.  

Run Away

Bath towel
Pillowcase
Bedsheet
Any material will do
A giant eagle
Flying free
Surveying
The yard
Before perching
On the porch
Superman
Wearing
His cape
Ready
To swoop in
And save the day
Or maybe
A friendly ghost
Playing
A game of
Hide-n-seek
Shaking with
Silly giggles
Any material will do
When paired with
The wild imagination
Each child holds
Once they feel free
To let it run away

Why is it our imaginations seem to shrink as we get older? As a child, I could always see objects in the clouds. It still happens sometimes, but I often second-guess myself.

Dress-up clothes, imaginary friends, playing pretend. Crucial elements of childhood. Sadly, it is not so simple these days. I was reminded of this while talking to a crying student this morning.

Oh, to be able to help them feel safe. Safe enough to let imaginations run wild!

Heavy Hearts

Your sweet smile
Gives no hint
Of the hurt
In your heart
They say children are resilient
That may
Be true
But a heart
Can only hold
So much pain-
When loss and
Instability
Frame each day
The future
Will not go
Untouched-
Not to say
There is no hope
Only that there are
No easy answers
Except for the ability
To always return
Your sweet smile

Each time I learn about another student facing traumatic circumstances, my heart grows heavy. Here they are, at school, trying to function. And quite often with a smile.

I am also reminded to stop and listen. Be patient and not too quick to judge behaviors. Seek out helpful information. Find ways to encourage.

Not that I am always successful. Honestly, my patience level today was low. But tomorrow is a new day. Another chance to observe, listen and love.