Let the healing begin
When tragedy strikes–when is the right time to move forward?
When is it okay to laugh and smile again?
For the past 9 years, in the days leading up to then senior prom, I have been performing “Armstrong’s Awesome Prom Power Point” to my students.
It’s a fun presentation mixed with history, advice, quizzes, jokes, dancing, and teenage slang–I really don’t understand–but the students find it funny when their teacher attempts to talk cool.
The highlight of the presentation is when I perform an original dance called the “Invisible Glow Stick” in front of the class.
In the wake of the death of one of my students, my first instinct was to not do the Power Point. It didn’t feel right. The death of my student was too fresh and raw and the school community was still in mourning.
I texted a colleague and asked them if I should do the Power Point this year.
They quickly responded with: “Fuck Yeah.”
So on Thursday morning I slipped on my finest tuxedo t-shirt, took a deep breath, and presented “Armstrong’s Awesome Prom Power Point” to my classes.
Together, my students (along with the whole community) and I are at the awkward intersection where grief meets normalcy.
Before I began, I told them I didn’t want to do this presentation. I told them I’d rather sit quietly at my desk. It would be easier to do nothing.
But then I told them that I had to do this presentation. I had to dance. I had to try to make them laugh. I had take an awkward step toward healing.
I gave the students permission to leave the room. No hard feelings. I understood if they didn’t want to participate. If they didn’t think it was right.
No one left.
We learned. We laughed. We danced. We took an important step toward healing.
I told my students that in a time of shocking loss no one knows how to react. Adults, like children, desperately want the pain to go away. We all want normalcy.
But for healing to happen, we have to take an awkward, even a ridiculous step forward.
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