Pat, Personally

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Family steps up

Last week, during my weekly visits to schools, I made a special unscheduled stop.  I checked in with the office manager (the principal was out at a meeting) and was escorted out to a portable classroom.  I knocked on the door and waited, not completely sure what I was going to say to this young teacher.  He opened the door and I introduced myself and instantly we fell into an easy conversation that lasted about 30 minutes, as he was on his prep period.

The uncertainty about the conversation came from the fact that we had spoken on the phone one time and sent texts back for about three weeks.  You see, this young teacher was at the Route 91 Harvest Festival with his girlfriend and was hit by a ricocheting bullet in the back of his leg.  The conversation was comfortable, but at times emotional.  He wasn’t sure if any other employee were wounded (he was the only one, as far as I know), wasn’t sure if any students were wounded (one current and a few former students were injured), or if there was any loss of life (a recent CCSD graduate of Basic High School did pass away, as did several current parents).  There were so many employees, families and friends who were there at the event and so many who were fortunate enough to live.

As I sat there, I realized that there is no way to truly comprehend what he had been through, no way to try to relate to his own personal experience during this traumatic event.  I could talk about the numerous employees that were helping in our schools and across the valley with the victims, victims’ families and with employees in casinos in the immediate area of the event.  I could ask about his healing process, both physically and emotionally, but I couldn’t truly understand the emotions that he must have been feeling.

In the Review-Journal, there was an article about a high school English persuasive/argumentative writing prompt completed by one of our students who was at the event.  As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think about my conversation with the teacher – how similar their experiences were, and how they were both struggling to make sense of a senseless act.

We are all still quite emotional about this incident, but if I have learned one thing about our community in the past 29 years, we rally when we need to!  We may not know our neighbors on our street, or have had more than a 3-minute conversation with them if we know their names,  but when we are faced with a tragic event, we pull together.

As we leave October and head into the next few months where family is the focus, we need to remember that in the worst of times, we are all one family.  And family takes care of each other.  Family steps up with those less fortunate and those who are hurting.  Family helps us keep going every day, even when tragedy strikes our community.