• H. Rick Goff

The Faces


All I see are the faces of the little ones I have grown so fond of over the last few months while "subbing" at local elementary schools in San Antonio. The morning routine was like a symphony that they all had rehearsed and practice so much that it was second nature to them. I would watch them as they casually walked into the classroom with their oversized backpacks that from behind made them look like ninja turtles. They would take off their backpacks, get their homework folders out, and put them in the homework basket. They would then go to the board and select their lunch for the day--tacos with meat, tacos with cheese, a salad, or a lunch from home. Then it was time to go to the carpet for morning announcements, the pledge of allegiance, and a moment of silence. After that, the day took on a life of its own and before I knew it, it was time to clean up and get ready to go home. Just like that, the day was done, and we were lining up the "walkers", "bus riders" and the "day care" kids as the school day was over.

It was all such a blur, but in between, I do remember and see the innocent and curious faces. The faces of expectation with a full life ahead of them. Faces that could light up a room with my favorite sound -- the laughter of a child. Faces with snotty noses and snaggled tooth smiles that could melt your heart with a look. Faces that were just beginning to show a personality as they were starting to figure some things out. I would see some faces that reflected more than a child should have to bear, but in school they got to forget that for a while. Faces that unknowingly only asked to be allowed to be a kid. Faces that asked not to be burdened with the stresses and issues of the adult world i.e., wars, poison politics, and social injustice. Faces that generally saw only the good in life despite the occasional disagreement with a classmate. Faces that knew no boundaries, had little to no filters, and showed the purest form of love---unconditional love! Faces that never doubted but knew they were in a safe place.

A safe place----well that was shattered yesterday for all the kids and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas. Their belief that school was a safe place was destroyed as a shooter shot and killed nineteen children and two teachers. All I can see are the faces that surely sensed danger but were unable to escape the bullets that ended their young lives. Faces that probably looked to their teachers for help and protection, and while they surely did all they could do, but like the kids they tried to protect, the insanity and violence took their lives too.

Now I see the faces of the parents, siblings, and extended families of the children and the teachers. The faces of unbelievable pain, sorrow, and sadness. Faces that can't believe or comprehend what has happened to them. Faces that try to make sense of the senseless and find hope in a time of hopelessness. I also see the faces of those trying to comfort the hurting families and while they wear the face of sincere compassion, even they are confused and grasping for explanation and understanding of this horrific scenario. I now see the faces of those who can do something to possibly prevent this type of incident from happening, and these faces while talking, are totally blank to me. These faces spout the same useless mantras that we hear after every massacre, "this doesn't work", "that won't change anything" etc. etc. But it reminds me of an old adage, "doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is a definition of insanity". In other words, do nothing and nothing will change! This is insane and we are better than this as a country and a society.

But I finally look at the face in the mirror and ask him, beyond your condolences and prayers for the families, what can and are you doing to make these horrific scenarios stop happening?? I am working on my answer and will find a way to be a part of the solution, and I hope anyone reading this will do the same.


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