Enough, Please.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's been a rough month, y'all. I consider my close friends a pretty tight circle...whether we're talking about my best friends from college, friends of the girls, or my friends from work, my circle isn't big, and it is definitely close-knit.

I don't even have a gentle segue for this, but life can be harsh. Life can thrown curve balls, and life can let you get a sneak peak at the catcher's signal. Really, there isn't any way of knowing what's coming next, but in the last month, I have found it very helpful to have faith in things that are so difficult to understand.

While I was at the grocery story today, I found myself persuing the sympathy card section. Now that I think about it, I typically buy 1-2 sympathy cards per year. Today at the store, I bought three, although I could easily have bought 7.

My friend G (my "across the hall at work buddy") lost his mom unexpectedly during Spring Break. He is one of the most positive people I've ever met, he is absolutely incredible with kids, and his spirit through the recent strife is so inspiring to me. He is truly an class-act example of everything his mom ever taught him, and it is amazing to see him walk her talk through one of the most difficult moments of his life.

And then there is Janet. Janet is the reason I'm still in education; Janet is the reason I didn't quit during my first year. Or my second year, and even my third year. Janet is the most true mentor I've ever had from a curriculum (and life-aspiration-esque standpoint), and so many people have the exact same sentiment for her as I do. In fact, she is "Mimi" to so many of us who she has helped, encouraged, cried with, celebrated with, and everything in between on the path to becoming better educators. She is truly one of the best.

Last year, Janet's niece, Kelly, became a dear part of my life. A fresh graduate from Texas A&M (and I don't even hold it against her - true love!), she took over a difficult sixth grade classroom two weeks before STAAR testing - I had the honor of helping her navigate her first few weeks. I quickly  learned that Janet was her aunt. Like Janet, Kelly is a breath of fresh air to have in your life.

Have I ever told you about Ray? I taught with him, too. He was my teaching neighbor my last three years in the classroom, and oh my goodness, he is a character! Amazing with kids, dearly in love with his wife (Janet), and crazy about his own children and grandchildren. We shared many laughs together, and we also shared tears on more than one occasion, but especially  during the Bastrop fires - one of his sons lived there during that time, and it was so scary.

Last Thursday, Ray and Janet lost one of their dear grandbabies, Brooklyn. Brooklyn is also Kelly's 2nd cousin. Brooklyn was almost 18 months old, and I will never be able to understand why she was taken from her family at such an early age. As a woman of faith, I know God had a purpose for her short time on earth, and as a woman of faith, I know God will provide peace and understanding to Janet, Ray, Kelly, and their families as they endure this unimaginable time in their lives.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to the news that a 13 year old girl in my sweet, quiet little town had been hit and killed by a train in the middle of the night. The girls were with their dad, and I cannot explain to you the relief that ran through my body the second I heard Cee's voice on the phone after I begged her to call me ASAP. We may never know the exact circumstances surrounding this situation, but it has definitely taken a toll on the students in our school district. It's tragic, it's heartbreaking, and I am proud of my girls for being present for their friends who were friends with this little girl who isn't with us anymore.

Saturday afternoon, I learned that the father of one of the girls' friends passed away peacefully in his sleep after a three-year battle with cancer. He left behind his beautiful wife and uber talented son, Milo, who is a 6th grader.

I woke up Monday morning to learn a woman was shot and killed in her front yard not far from my school - and I instantly worried that she might be the parent to one or more of our students. As it turns out, her children are not yet middle-school aged, but many of our students lived very nearby the home where she passed away, and they were already familiar with the news.

Today we learned that another student within our district passed away, and I wanted to stomp my feet and yell, "ENOUGH!"

Seriously. Enough. Enough, enough, enough!

I know God's timing is perfect, but it hasn't seemed quite that way in the last few weeks, and enough is enough. Our community needs a break.

And finally, a flashback and a reality check. Another of my teacher friends came to me last week to see if she could call her grandmother from my office during her lunch hour. Her grandmother was on hospice care, and the family felt that a phone call from my friend might be the last bit of relief her grandmother needed in order to let go. I offered to leave the room, and she told me she didn't want to make the call on her own. I have never been so in awe of anyone's strength as I was of my friend when she made that phone call. My heart ached and wrenched because I think that's a call nobody ever wants to make. But she did it...with so much courage.

Today was the first day of STAAR testing. From the Testing Coordinator's Team's corner, everything we hoped would go well honestly went well, and everything we worried might go wrong essentially did. In the end, though we all survived. Only three kids were absent, and we will tackle the 8th grade reading test tomorrow.

At the end of the day, my teacher friend came into the testing room and said, "Well, she wasn't waiting for me; she was waiting for STARR. My grandmother passed at 9 this morning, and I didn't have my phone on. I think it was better that way."

Before I left, I checked on Kelly. I told her how proud I was of her for her strength. I made sure she knew I would pick up any slack she needs for the rest of the week or the following or whenever - Brooklyn's funeral is tomorrow, and Kelly was feverishly typing her sub plans so she could make it to her baby cousin's visitation.

Tonight, like so many people in my district, I prepared several dishes for the family's lunch after the funeral tomorrow.

Death will never be normal for me. I will always have questions. I will always question my faith in the midst of tragedy, and I will always find my way back home. But when anyone ever asks me why I don't move to this school or that, after a few weeks like this, the answer has been painted very clearly for me.

Wallace is my home. The people of Wallace are, too. We pull together when things get rough, and we are each other's safety nets. I don't believe that every school is like ours, and I feel incredibly blessed to work with some of the most amazing people I know, in the same building, every single day, for the last ten years and for all the years in the future where they'll {hopefully} decide to keep me around as a part of the family for as long as we can all imagine.

That, combined with the girls, is everything I could ever hope for and more than everything I've ever had within the realms of happily-ever-afters...and for that, I am eternally thankful.

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