Yesterday afternoon while doing a very normal thing of getting my hair done after school and checking local social media...my heart lurched. I found myself refreshing a local news source's Twitter feed feverishly as reports posted about a horrific bus accident in Chattanooga carrying 35 elementary school students from local Woodmore elementary. I immediately started pleading with God that there would be no tragedies but after seeing the photo of the crash site I realized that probably wouldn't be the case. As of now, there are 5 confirmed fatalities ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade and 6 children still in ICU.
As a teacher, this weighed so heavily on my heart. It would be a lie if I said I don't often imagine worse case scenarios regarding our students. I imagine what I would do if their was an active shooter on campus. I imagine what I would do if a tornado hit our school instead of miraculously bouncing over it like it did a few years ago. It's part of who we are as teachers...we have been entrusted to care for our students. Therefore children aren't just students, they are our babies.
I don't work in that school or that school district but my heart feels wrenched in two as I think of what those teachers, administrators, students and families are going through right now. Chattanooga knows how to come together in the face of tragedy. We did it just a few months ago due to a terrorist attack. But no community wants to be put to the test regarding unity in the midst of tragedy. Our children are having to deal with the idea of mortality too quickly here in Chattanooga. It affects us all, but right now my prayers are that the right words would be said as the Hamilton County Department of Education community strives to meet the needs of their hurt and confused. These educators need wisdom and discernment in double doses today.
I find myself calling on the name of Jesus this morning for both emotional and physical healing for those closest and/or most affected by this tragedy. At our school, today just happens to be Grandparents Day. I can't think of a better day for our students...to be surrounded by extra people that love them unconditionally while we all try to make sense of this. I believe that God's timing is always perfect but it's so hard, in our earthly bodies, to understand this. I find myself being thrown back to December 5, 1997 to the still birth of my sweet baby girl, Grace Morrow Davis. I'm already praying for these families as they face future holidays. It changes life forever.
As I feel so utterly useless in this moment to this community, I believe there is so much I can take away from this to be a better mother and educator. I am struck with just how fragile life is and I am reminded that we all have struggles and demons that we deal with daily. I have my own two girls that both have medical issues that could potentially shorten their life expectancy if they don't make wise choices during their lifetime. Being face to face with the mortality of young people reminds me to treasure each moment as a mom and a teacher more and more. We aren't promised tomorrow but oh how we take it for granted. I am challenged today to bathe others in prayer and lead them to the open arms of Jesus. Five little angels in one horrific accident opens my eyes wide to self-reflection and growth. While it isn't about me, changing habits and culture of ingratitude and lack of caring for others with my whole heart can begin with me. And speeding while driving, I can change that too.