I was a mess on Saturday. I diligently layout everything that I need for a run the night before so that I can avoid any early morning fiasco's, because there is nothing I hate more than showing up late and having to panic and rush. My planning failed me this weekend in a big way.
I wake up, get dressed, fed my son, kiss my husband and I'm heading out the door when my husband says, "Wait. Aren't you running for Victoria Soto today?"
I reply back, "Yes, see?" And point to the writing on the front of my shirt that says, "Victoria Soto".
To which he replies, "Then why does it say 'Mary Sherlock' on the back?"
Apparently, the printer that created the t-shirts mixed up the names on the back of Victoria and Mary's shirts. So while it said "Victoria Soto" on the front, it said "Mary Sherlock" on the back....and vice versa.
It's 7:30 in the morning and I'm running around my house looking for duck tape to cover up Mary's name and write Victoria's over top. But of course we have no duct tape. I run next door to the neighbors house. Forget the cup of sugar! Get me some duct tape! But they aren't awake yet. Run home, run around in circles for a bit and then realize that there is a hardware store on my way.
Get in the car. Stop. Get duct tape. Realize that the gas tank is on empty. Get gas. Continue on my way. Pull into the YMCA in Stratford at 9:45. Race is at 10. Phew. Not ideal, but 15 minutes is enough time to check in and pull myself together.
"Wait a second. Why is no one else here?"
Go to the front desk. Am told that while it's the YMCA Sweetheart Run, the race itself is actually at a park 5 minutes away. GAHHH!
Run back to my car, go the exact speed limit down the road to the actual race location. Make it JUST in time to check in, pin my number on and line up at the starting line.
Not the way I like to do things, but it got down. HA!
One thing that I need to note about this race, before I get to the serious stuff is that while I was running seven different people ran by me (I swear, I'm not that slow), patted me on the shoulder as they past, pointed to my shirt and then gave me a thumbs up. I swear, I'm going to make it through one race without tearing up. One day.
So, anyways...On to more important matters. Remembering Victoria.
One of the first reactions that I remember hearing from a friend after the shooting, was that they were struck immensely by not only the death of students that were so young, but of the youth of the teachers as well and how that was entirely other brand of heart break.
The heroism in that youth was nothing short of astounding. I would love to say that I would have thought as quickly as Victoria did (hiding her students in closets, standing between the gunman and her children), but who knows. So young, yet so incredibly brave.
In my family, both immediate and extended, the profession of "teacher" is the most common. My mother, my brother (just down the road from Sandy Hook at Newtown High), countless cousins, aunts. It's an honorable profession. One that doesn't get enough credit or recognition as far as I'm concerned. What Victoria did that day, went so far above and beyond the call of duty. Her actions speak to the world in a voice loud and clear that these teachers that we trust our children to everyday are more than just people that guide our children in academia. They do more than just show our children how to read and write. They are surrogate parents to our children when we can't be there. They treat those children like their own and protect them for us when we can't be there. They are heroes. Everyday. Thankfully, cases like Sandy Hook are rare. And Victoria's brand of heroism is not needed every day. But every day the men and women of the teaching profession are protecting our children in other ways. Shielding them from a school yard bully. Taking them aside when they are struggling to learn a new concept. Guiding them to being well rounded, productive members of our society. We owe them so much. I am in awe of what they do every day. I don't think that you can go home a single day as a teacher and not feel proud of what it is that you do.
I think of anyone that I have ever heard interviewed about a major success that they have achieved. One of the first questions anyone asks them is, "Do you have someone that sticks out in your mind as someone that helped you achieve this amazing goal?" And I would be willing to bet, 9 times out of 10, that person mentions a teacher that they had once.
Victoria Soto. Every child that you selflessly hid away and put yourself between will have you to thank for being able to live out the rest of their lives. They will speak of you to their children when they grow up. You will be revered by those children's parents for all of eternity. And a grateful town and nation will never forget you for sparing us the pain of what could have been so many more innocent lives lost.
Forever loved. Forever in your debt.