We are a nation hurting this week. And this a week that is supposed to be devoted to family festivities, parties with friends and those we work with all year-long. Yet, we are all aching inside with the hurt that a major tragedy brings. And this elementary school shooting after a string of sadness this fall, hurricane Sandy, shopping mall shootings and others seems to be the proverbial “straw”. This brings up raw emotions, memories and “hand-wringing”. For me it took me back to a day in December 1998.
My son was a kindergartener that year. It was the last day of school before a two-week winter break. I volunteered to go into his K-1 classroom to help with the holiday party that afternoon. Twenty-plus 5, 6 & 7 year olds excited by the holidays and hopped up on sugary treats! It was actually one of those afternoons that sticks out in the memory. Not a major event, but just a joyful celebration of the season. Mrs. Kassel, my son’s kindergarten and first grade teacher, was a gentle woman with a twinkle in her eye. Nearing retirement she had a comforting and soothing demeanor even in the midst of hyper and active children. We made crafts, opened gifts to the teacher and had treats. The afternoon was fun even though my mind was racing with thoughts of what had to be done when I got home to finish my Christmas preparations that evening after my 3 and 5 year-olds went to bed. I was in the heat of being “Mrs. Claus” in those days.
The end of the school day was coming to an end, nearing the time of the school bell ringing. And an announcement came over the speaker from the Principal. “Please keep your children in the classroom until we notify you that you can dismiss them”. What was going on? We had heard some sirens. But that is not unusual as it is only half a block from the fire station. We continue to “party” with the kids and keep them occupied. Then another announcement with a couple of license plate numbers and “please come to the office if these are your vehicles”. Oh, dread. I had decided to drive to the school a near block and a half away that day with my new 4-month old Sienna mini-van. I knew I would be tired and the kids would have back-packs and more to carry home. I was lazy or carrying too many cookies to the party. Now I was going to pay for my decision. Yes, my car had been hit while parked along the street. There had been a police chase of a stolen vehicle which had spun out of control at yes, the exact location my car was parked.
They had apprehended the car thief who had jumped out of the stolen vehicle after hitting mine and attempted to run off. The school was able to dismiss the children with no incidents. I looked at my car and cried. Our plan was to load it up with all of Santa’s goodies and leave first thing in the morning, a six-hour drive to the Grandparent’s in Michigan. As it turned out it was mostly rear bumper damage and it was “drivable”. It did make it to Michigan and then spent a week in the bump shop when we returned home. We were fortunate. It could have been worse.
So in the after-math of last week’s horrific event, what can we “the fortunate” who escaped a personal loss do? We still feel a loss and sadness for those affected. How do we help in the healing? I don’t know. But I am offering what I can. This week on Wednesday December 19, and Friday December 21, I am opening my studio all afternoon into the evening if there are those who would like to stay. An opportunity to unite, create and comfort. I love this project (even thought it is not my idea- please see http://www.urbanthreads.com) of the “Giving Bunny“. You can make this adorable bunny, name it, love it, and hide it for someone to find and love. I will be suppying all of the materials and instruction, as needed. You supply the creativity and love. All ages are welcome. Donations will be accepted for the OPRF Food Pantry. I hope we make a lot of Bunnies to leave a legacy of Comfort and Joy this season.