For the last three nights, ever since the horrible events in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday, I have had vivid nightmares - very specific ones, bringing me back to the exact feelings, sights, and sounds of being a kindergarten student myself. The day I keep re-living in my dreams is November 22, 1963. I was 5 years old, blissfully fingerpainting on an easel, when our principal came to the door and in a hushed voice, told our teacher to "step into the hallway." Our always-composd and cheerful teacher returned a moment later, weeping. These were the days when people didn't explain things to children, and we were simply told to stop what we were doing, put on our jackets, and wait outside for the school bus to take us home early. In front of the school, we strained to hear what adults or older kids might be saying. Finally a boy - probably age 8 or 9 - walked past and whispered that President Kennedy had been shot. Lined up on the sidewalk, waiting to board our bus, we cried silently. The worst moment, however, was when we climbed on the bus and realized that our bus driver was sobbing uncontrollably. This was disturbing because under normal circumstances he was a mean and scary old man who seemed to detest children. I guess we figured that if HE was unglued, whatever was happening must be bad indeed. When I got to my house, my mother was crying, so I knew it was all true, and it became etched in my mind as the day I found out that the world could be a cruel place. Sadly, it is a lesson we all learn.
Diary: One Author's Life
December 17, 2012