I arrived in the auditorium to get my class, to find my principal screaming at the students. The whole school. They had not been able to go outside because it had started raining during lunch, but they didn't have books with them because it had not been raining the period before lunch. I guess they'd been loud and disrespectful, and she just lost it. My AP was out sick, we'd called down with the news of the seizure, sometimes people just get really angry.
I felt battered, by the fifteen minutes spent kneeling on the floor trying to figure out how best to help, by watching a friend possessed by something so alien and powerful, by walking in on the end of a really angry outburst. The class I had to pick up was hurt and angry. We were all a little traumatized. How to be gentle with them? How to back up my principal 100% while removing myself from the hurtful, unjust parts of what she said? How to ask the kids to be gentle with me, to not take out their anger at the principal on me? How to communicate that something serious had happened and that I was upset, without telling them all the details? How to heal, from all of it?
Luckily, we were coloring. Quiet, focused, relaxing, something you can do while chatting in low voices with your friends. I taught them how to divide up a paper into thirds and fold it into a brochure; then they started making "foldables" or brochures about the three classes of levers. I passed out boxes of colored pencils. I took a few kids aside to talk to them about what had happened during lunch that had caused the principal to get so angry. They said they'd been loud, though they weren't sure they'd deserved the outburst. I asked a few kids if they'd ever been so angry that they'd exaggerated how they felt about something, said things harsher than they meant. They agreed that they had. I said they'd just have to let it go, everyone does it once in a while. I turned the focus back to their own behavior. And then I let it go, and they colored.
Another colleague, who had gone along to the hospital, called after school to let us know that our colleague was doing okay, was responding and talking and awake. She needed me to recall as many details as I could about the seizure to help the doctors. If you've ever tried to remember details after a traumatic event, you know that reality and memory are fickle. Don't trust witnesses, they can't remember. Or maybe it's just me.
Later, I went to a yoga class. I hadn't been planning to go, but I felt short of breath and wound up. My yoga teacher looked exhausted. She started class with a story. A close friend, a musician, was playing a concert very late. She had classes to teach the next morning and wasn't sure she could stay out that late, but she convinced herself to go, to be there to support him. The concert was delayed, delayed some more. She thought about going home, but stuck it out. The concert was great, but she didn't get home until after 4. When she got home, her block was full of fire trucks. During the night, the apartment immediately above hers had caught fire, burned up completely. Her apartment had been damaged by smoke and water. But she had not been home, had not been hurt, and her neighbors had also been away and were safe. Alive. She described the damage to her apartment: "The walls kind of needed to be repainted anyway. The floor needed to be redone soon. A crew with a water-vac is cleaning up the water right now..." The crack that the water had come through missed her bed by a few inches. It missed her altar by a few inches.
Her take on it was that we are here for a purpose, that life conspires to put us where we need to be when we need to be there. That a day can be as meaningful or meaningless as we choose to make it.