Words We Heard: ‘This is what I’m doing with my time on earth.’
Growing up, there was never a point in time that I was afraid to walk into my school. I went to sleep dreading the early morning and long day ahead of me. I woke up every morning, desperately trying not to wake anyone else, dreading the bus or car ride to school. I walked into school dreading all of the homework I would be assigned. But never once did I walk into school wondering if I would walk out.
On February 14, we experienced yet another heartbreaking event. When I think about the students in Parkland, my heart aches. I can’t imagine their loss or their fear the next time they walk into that school. I can’t imagine the way their heart will drop when they walk into the classroom of a teacher who is no longer there.
When I was in the fourth grade, we were put on lockdown after a parent without custody tried to pick their child up from school. It could hardly even be considered a lockdown. We still walked the halls as if nothing was going on. Throughout high school, we had lockdown drills – not as frequently as fire drills and tornado drills, but we had them. No one took any of the drills seriously. We sat in the corner of the room, lights turned off, blinds closed, talking about how long this drill was taking.
But what if it wasn’t a drill? What if someone was walking around the school, gun in hand, threatening all of our lives? In high school, this thought never crossed my mind. This drill was pointless. This would never happen to us. That happened to other schools. Never at Mason.
Here’s what I often forgot when I got lost in my privilege: It does happen. As I’ve gotten older, each time I hear of these tragedies, it sparks more than just empathy. It sparks a want and a need to bring change. I have experienced loss before, and yet I still can’t begin to fathom what the Parkland students went through. It’s more than just loss of life. These students and faculty have lost their sense of security in a place that should never be feared. The students have lost a piece of themselves.
Here at Women of Cincy, our goal is to share stories. To bring our community together. To create empathy. So in this moment, after this tragedy, we must come together. We must stand united with the students. We may not understand what they went through, but we can bring empathy and support. We can help make a difference and bring the change needed to ensure that no one has to lose another teacher, friend, or child.
“We’re never awakened just one time. And if there’s anything this strange, chaotic, momentous era can teach us, it is that we need to be awakened again, and again, and again.” –Adrienne Miller, former literary editor, in an article for Vogue
“The fact that they have seized control of the narrative around their own tragedy, refusing to let it fade out or be hijacked, is an encouraging sign – and one that has few parallels so far in history.” –Tina Nguyen in her article for The Hive
“All I could do was make sure she had the baseline stuff all children should have: a loving family, food and water, a warm bed, and basic safety. The rest was going to have to work itself out.” –Judi Ketteler, in her piece “What We Take into Adulthood – and Pass on to Our Children” in Cincinnati Magazine
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it doesn’t feel like a job. It’s my life. This is the way I’m living my life. This is what I’m doing with my time on earth.” –Annie Woods, owner of Dark Wood Farm, in an interview with Women of Cincy
“In this moment when everything was gone, I could still choose love; I could choose to be an instrument of love; I could send loving intentions to another human being. The other thing I realized is that ultimately, that is all that matters.” –Harry Pickens, world renowned pianist, in a talk for Creative Mornings
“Everyone has the power to make small changes in our behavior, our surroundings, and our relationships that can help set us on course for a happier life.” –Tara Parker-Pope, founding editor of Well, in her article for The New York Times
“Often, we get so caught up in our day and day and we just keep repeating the same patterns and behaviors over and over again, but they're not actually helping us get to where we want to go.” –Molly Ho on her blog Wholehearted Woman