Twenty years ago, I was in a very different place. Geographically, I wasn’t very far from where I am now, but personally, I was light years from here. My students now weren’t even born.
Twenty years ago, I didn’t know I was a teacher. I didn’t know I was a mother. I didn’t know I was a wife.
Twenty years ago, I was just starting to rebuild a relationship with my mother, after a turbulent adolescence.
Twenty years ago, I was a student, exploring the world and all it had to offer, if I would just take it.
On December 6, 1989, a very disturbed man walked into the Ecole polytechnique and destroyed 14 lives. Those 14 young women, whose only transgression was being intelligent and female, never had the chance to discover the world or themselves.
They didn’t know. They didn’t know what the future held – how many babies never happened? How many innovations were never conceived? How many rifts were never mended?
They didn’t know that being a woman was a crime punishable by death.
They say that time heals all wounds, but I think that what really happens is that time smooths the jagged edges, so it’s not quite so painful. The pain is what teaches us – we might not remember, really, just how painful it was to stick our hand on the burner, or to put our tongue on the cold signpost, or to stub our toe against the coffee table, but we learn. We learn to put on the oven mitt, or keep our tongues away from cold metal, or to walk around the table.
Time will not, and should not, heal the wounds of December 6 1989. I hope we’re still learning from that day.