Some years back, my little granddaughter was poking through my wallet and came across a small photograph of a boy. “Who’s this,” she asked, “and what’s he doing in your wallet?” I explained that he was a student I’d taught back in the long-ago 60s, and that I had resolved to keep it to remind me of the good things about teaching.
The other night I sat in the audience as that same granddaughter performed on the cello in the 8th-grade orchestra concert. In their pink and green hair and trendy jean knee-holes, with arms and legs that seemed to sprout longer even as we watched, they somehow stilled their cosmic exuberance with all eyes on their teacher. They made music and therefore life. They were wonderful. And hilarious.
Yesterday I came to the computer to check the weather before I headed out for Friday errands. And there it was: another school shooting. Noblesville West Middle School. About 40 miles north of me. Again and yet again. All the shootings have hit home, but this was more sinister. I think of the 7th-grade boy in my wallet, who stands for all the students I have known. I think of the eighth-grade orchestra. And I think of the guns and the blood. I cannot unthink it.