I’m going to be waiting a few days to post this because it is too raw for many people. Today our school found out we lost a 7th grade student. Finding joy in everyday is refined by fire on a day like this. I got the call from my principal last night, so I had the night to process and cry before I came to school the next day. She and the vice principal called each staff member and talk them through what they knew. Later in the evening I called the art teacher and we talked on the phone for a while, talking about all of Vinny’s good qualities, and voicing our concerns about what the next morning (this morning) would bring as the students came to school.
Today I got to school earlier than normal. I thought I was okay until I got out of my car and saw the flag at half staff. Tears welled up in my eyes. I couldn’t get them out as I walked in the door, signed in at the front desk where both the principal and vice principal were sitting. I made some noise that sufficed as a morning greeting then walked the empty halls to my room. I tried to do some normal things, to make the morning as normal as I could for myself. I started some tea and straightened my keyboards, headphones, and stools.
We had a morning meeting to discuss how the day would run and to introduce the crisis team and explain how they will help students and the classes that Vinny was in each period. Staff members faces ranged from stoic to bleary eyed, to tear stained. There was a pre-written announcement that every homeroom teacher was to read before the announcement started. I would not have made it through that statement without my voice cracking and my tears flowing, thankfully, I don’t have a homeroom. We had a plan, we had a team, we had to start the day.
After homeroom my 8th grade class shuffled in the door, me greeting each one. I usually stand at the door with good mornings in hand, but today I made sure every students got a moment. We were told to keep assignments going, but allow for emotions and distracted thoughts. My 8th grade assignment was ready made for such circumstances, so had them get the Chromebooks and continued their long-term project. They were quiet and didn’t ask much of me. I’m pretty sure they would all see the mist permanently in my eyes, even after I encouraged them to come up or call on my if they needed anything or wanted me to listen to the piece they were working on.
The rest of the school day went by similarly. Mostly in a blur with singular moments of clarity. The warmth of my tea cup was my physical comfort throughout the day. Something I could control, make more of and consume at whatever rate I wanted. The physical warmth of my mug was like a hug from the Holy Spirit. It was a comfort that far exceeded what a warm mug should have been able to give.
Today’s joy is finding God in the warmth of a mug on the most difficult of days.