- Kimberly Krawczyk survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018.
- Still a teacher today, she says people need to forget their political sides and focus on preventing senseless deaths.
- To Uvalde, she says, “You will hate God. You will thank God. You will find the fire to move forward.”
I was a teacher in the 1200 building on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018 — the day a former student brought a gun on campus, killing 17 people and wounding 17 more.
I teach math and was working in the freshman building at the time of the shooting, but I didn’t open my door. The shooter didn’t notice my classroom; I think he was so enamored by the havoc he had wreaked that he didn’t realize we were there. We were very lucky.
I remember someone once told me that it was just 10 minutes of gunfire — but it is so, so much more than that. I walked 25 14-year-olds over dead bodies.
When I heard about the shooting in Texas, calls from my family flooded in
Then calls from friends. Then coworkers asking if I’m okay.
And I’m not. I walk my dog. I stare at the sky. I hate God; I thank God. I practice my breathing.
The numbers weren’t originally accurate on the newsfeed I was following, but as a survivor, I have learned to wait and watch. As the numbers climbed, my heart sank.
I saw the pictures of the teachers who assuredly did everything possible to save their students — their children, because teachers see their students as family — and I’m devastated. I spent the night fielding calls and texts in between bouts of sobbing with grief and anger. How could this happen? Don’t we keep saying, never again?
I believe we’re starting to get detached from the violence
It’s so easy to say we’re so sorry this happened and ask each other if we’ve seen the news today. But that can’t be what this turns into — real people are involved, and they’re just babies. Days ago they were playing with Barbies and coloring Mother’s Day cards. They’re humans, not numbers.
Why on earth do we keep picking sides? What side is across any aisle when it comes down to preventing senseless killings? We are all wrong — and I mean that emphatically. We need to admit it and start working together. The gun laws are wrong, the school policies are wrong, school security is wrong, mental health services are wrong, school funding is wrong, voter turnout is wrong. We can do better; we need to do better. We as a society are not doing our job.
To the community of Uvalde, let me first say to you what others said to us
You are loved, you are important, you are needed. Come together — community counts.
And let me also say to you what no one said to us: You are strong, but you don’t have to be. You can ask for help and demand that it is quality. You know your experience, and your child’s experience. Don’t let anyone gaslight you.
Others will invite you to a park — go. Family will try to help — let them. Someone will buy you a latte —nod and smile. Love comes in many forms.
In the coming days you will work your schedules around funerals. You’ll have to fill out victim reports and organize fundraisers. You’ll struggle to get out of bed and forget what day it is. You will walk your dog. You will hate God; you will thank God. You will find the fire to move forward.
After Parkland, I’ve had several dialogues with reporters, families, and law enforcement
It’s always the same: what could we have done? I continue to talk because I hope that one of these days I will strike a chord with someone who can be the change.
People call and try to do their best to check in on me — which I appreciate and is very meaningful. But it’s very difficult to understand what I went through if you haven’t gone through it yourself.
I’m still teaching, but now I teach at a different school. I have a service dog that helps. And talking to the kids really helps. We’re room 1257; we’ve stayed in touch. I even have a tattoo of an open heart with 1257 in it because 1257 is forever in my heart.
We’re a family that bonded through something terrible. We have a group chat and message each other for every anniversary, birthday, and holiday and I send them little gifts. I’m even getting brunch with one of them this weekend.
I always say to them: You’re each other’s support system to get through this.