It's the morning ritual of school. After two hours of prep at home we are finally pouring out of the van onto the playground at my kids' elementary. I'm giving my oldest down the road about his "reading counts" points (a complex system that assesses books read and comprehension) and his lack of points. I'm chasing down registration slips for the afterschool science class and I'm thinking about the rest of my day. The trip to the grocery, an update of a schedule for work, a few other tedious details that are sooo important.
I see the staff in a meeting. The bell rings and they release. I see my second grader's teacher. I ask her how things are going and in a very unusual move she says, "bad." She zips right, I go straight and am wondering what she meant. Immediately it's all about me. I think about the small class size we are hoping to keep and imagine it being changed, merged classrooms or some other disaster for me. I walk to the playground continuing to imagine. I touch a head, kiss a cheek, and hug the stuffing out of my kids as their lines slither into the school. Knots of parents are left behind and I go join one.
Faces are drawn, one woman I know as a happy go lucky hippie sort has this drawn sunken look as though she has been punched in the stomach. Another has the sheen of unshed tears in her eyes.
What? I ask
One of the kindergarteners drown over the weekend.
Now I'm the one who feels like I've been punched in the stomach. The same gut sucking, sick in the head, gonna cry feeling that hasn't wrapped around my body since I was young enough to skip through a playground like this one.
The details pour out.
I could write for a week about how my petty existance was put into perspective at this point.
I could write for another about how I considered the situation and assessed whether it could happen to my family (it could.)
I could write and write and it wouldn't change one thing.
I said multiple times throughout the day, "I can't begin to imagine..."
My husband said to me, "You know I think it's really horrifying because you can imagine..."
He's right. I can imagine.
Dear God, help me keep them safe.