Day 5:May  2010

Sunset Middle School started at 7:35 am. Every morning, my parents would wake me up at 6:15. I would take a shower, get dressed, and watch the news in their bedroom for 10-15 minutes before I headed downstairs to eat a bowl of cereal.

 

On one of the last mornings of 7th grade, I mozied into my parents' room and found both of them staring at me frozen.

 

My mom let me know, as she stood in front of the mirror in her bathroom, leaning all of her weight against the counter, that Avery’s parents had been killed at their store by one of their employees the morning before.

 

Avery wasn’t a close friend. I knew her through group projects and P.E. class, but the idea that she didn’t have parents anymore was jarring. 12-year-olds faced with mortality in this way don’t know what to do, so I went to school like everyone else.

 

As the hours dragged on from 7:30-2:30, we were ushered from period to period, and we would sit through each teacher acknowledging the tragedy with something kind that the grief or crisis counselors had briefed them on that morning. They would let us know repeatedly of the resources that were available at the counselor’s office. This would be followed up with something like Planet Earth which would be screened in lieu of any content we would have to focus on.

My social studies teacher was the only one that cried in front of us.  A grown man in his 40s had tears streaming down his face, a step away from the numb information we had grown used to.

One by one kids would get up in the middle of class and begin to sob. It was an unpredictable game of dominos. When it happened to me it was out of sheer emotional exhaustion.

 

Parents weren’t invincible protectors; they were adults that could leave us—what we understood as leaving us behind. Yet it never occurred to me, not even once, that anything like that could happen to me.

 

I was devastated for others but my parents were different.