Over the past few days, I have heard, read, and seen details of the horrific tragedy that happened in Newtown, Connecticut. As a former elementary school teacher (currently I am a high school teacher), I am unable to fathom what those who were involved - students, teachers, staff, parents - are going through. Seeing photos, names, and ages of those lost on Friday, December 14, 2012, has only brought more reality and heartache to me for the victims and their families.
I have tried to place myself in the shoes of Vikki Soto, the 27 year old teacher who hid her students in the cabinets of her class, saving all of their lives by sacrificing hers. I cannot begin to imagine what went through her head and her heart in those moments before the gunman broke into her room. What thoughts she had as she made sure that all of her students were hidden and safe. Seeing the looks of fear in her students eyes, yet reassuring them that everything would be okay.
I cannot imagine.
I remember the layout of the classroom that I taught 4th grade in.
I remember each of my students.
I remember their sweet faces.
I remember the sweatshirts they wore every day.
I remember the jokes they would tell me, and my reacting as though I had never heard them, laughing with the same enthusiasm every time.
I remember the different things they collected and would bring to school.
I remember their backpacks.
I remember having the "Stranger on Campus" drills and conversations with my kids, which undoubtedly lasted much longer than they were supposed to.
I remember that these conversations only ended when I had reassured my kids several times that I would never let anything happen to them.
I remember that I meant it.
I am positive that Vikki Soto's students knew the same of her.
She truly is a hero.
I cannot imagine, and don't think I will ever be able to fathom, the depth of pain that each and every person involved is going through.
I know that I will never be able to fathom that deep evil that engrossed the gunman to be capable of such a monstrosity.
If I am ever to be put in the same horrific situation, God willing no one will ever have to be again, I pray that I would react in the exact way as Vikki Soto.