When I was pregnant with Quinn a tragic event occurred in my hometown. It rocked our community to its core and even though I was not currently living there, it made an everlasting impact on me. I remember checking Facebook on my phone very quickly before heading to lunch duty. One of my friends had a panicked post up. “Can anyone tell me what is going on at Sandy Hook?! My mom isn’t answering her phone!” (5 years later, I am covered in goosebumps as I write this). Her mother was the school nurse at the elementary school I had attended as a child and still occupied the position.
I immediately called my friend who was a police officer. “What’s going on?!” The media was reporting that there was a live shooter in my Alma Mater and that they believed there was a fatality. He shared with me, that while the media was not yet aware of it, the principal and one teacher had been fatally shot. They were still attempting to secure the building and there may be more fatalities.
I wandered through lunch duty in a haze. As I walked back towards my classroom to get an update, one of my colleagues pulled me aside. “Sharon…. it’s 26. There are 26 dead”. The floor tilted. The walls spun. My heart sank. My social media was filled with former classmates wondering if their mothers…. children… friends… we alive. Our lives were forever changed. Our community was forever changed.
Many of us chose to “choose love” and teach kindness to try and find the good in all of the evil. To do our part to ensure these tragedies stop. I began teaching the students at my school about kindness and little things they can do to make a difference in their school, community and home.
As part of that process, I reached out to one of the organizations that was born from the shooting. It was run by the parents of one of the first graders who lost her life. We spoke about possibly working together to create a school curriculum that could be shared with other schools to teach kindness. Excited about the idea, they invited me to attend an event in which they awarded children with kindness awards and celebrated acts of kindness the children had done in their communities. I was excited to have an opportunity to help…. to give back … and to try to make a difference.
John attended the event with me. He knew this was immensely important to me. He knew how much I was affected by the shooting in the halls that inspired me to become a teacher. And yet, as we were sitting there…he did what John does …. and started a very loud, public argument that made me feel small and embarrassed.
The event was very loud. They had music, videos, a book signing and cupcakes. It was beautiful. I tried to lean over and say a few things to John. He was having a hard time hearing me so he would say, “What?!” and I would simply repeat myself. After a while my throat started to feel raw. I can’t remember what I leaned in to tell John, but I can remember that it was pretty insignificant and I was trying to save my voice. So when he said “What?!” I just replied by saying never mind. He loudly asked “WHAT?!” a few more times and I said it wasn’t important. This… unbelievably… is what started the argument.
The accusatory statements started. He raised his voice. His face get very close to mine and began to take on an aggressive look. I started to feel people’s eyes on us. I begged him to stop. When that didn’t’ work, I begged him to just wait until we left… or at least until we could find another room. I tried to walk to a different area and get some space, but he merely followed and made a bigger scene. I was mortified. I was crushed. This display was the complete opposite of what this event was celebrating…. the complete opposite of commemorating the people who lost their lives in my hometown. I had gone to this event to try and do something good … and instead I tainted it with negativity and arguments. I felt diminished and worthless. He took even this from me. Why?
I never heard from the people running the organization again. I can’t say that I blame them very much. Here they were trying to celebrate kindness and teach children to grow into considerate adults…. and John and I were in the back of the room making a scene. I wish that I had been able to help them. I wish that I had been able to use that platform to make the world a more positive place. I wish that John had been able to control his selfish, erratic behavior this one time….