It’s unbelievable to think that 3 years ago today I was sitting in my office at Chardon Middle School during what seemed to be a typical lockdown drill, with no idea that a horrific tragedy had struck at the high school next door. It wasn’t until I began to receive messages, the first from Sarah, asking me if I was okay and what had happened. Texts began pouring in, telling me to turn on the news on my computer. Sitting there, watching what was unfolding outside our doors, it felt like someone had punched me in the chest. No words, just the sound of my heart pounding as tears ran down my face. How could this possibly be happening?? Students, killed, at Chardon High School?
Everything was so surreal. It felt as though I was just walking through a fog of monumental disbelief. Life had changed, forever. I may not be working in that office as a school psych anymore, but, today, that’s where my heart is. Three of our kids were killed in the cafeteria that day; and one was left paralyzed. A senseless act of violence. They were just kids. Sometimes things happen in our lives that truly test our strength, faith, and belief that the sun will rise again. For Chardon, this was our time, and nothing was going to stop us from watching that sun rise, even on the darkest of nights. Perhaps we don’t see or believe in our true strength until we need to use it.
The vision of red ribbons, tied around every single tree in Chardon, is so crystal clear in my mind. They symbolized a community that would not succumb to evil. They were a sign to let the world know, and to help each other remember, we would get through it together. The teachers, staff, first responders, parents, counselors who donated their time, crisis intervention teams, and so many more, were, and will always be, the glue that held everyone together, when everything was falling apart. The support from all over the nation was incredible. A group even sent teddy bears to all of the students and staff, a seemingly small token of love that meant so much. Mine still sits on my bookshelf at home. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Danny, Russell, Demetrius, and Nick, and with everyone at the school that day. One heartbeat, always.