Today started pretty normally, woke up at 0300 and then fell back asleep and slept past my alarm. I wasn’t late to work though, since work is ten steps from my bed. But I got coffee and some crossword puzzle time in before the old bell rang to get out of the gate and make the company some money.
An hour into my day, I get the text :”Mom, I’m f*** freaking out. The kids got out in the car loop and school personnel grabbed them like footballs and ran screaming into the building. There are hundreds of cops racing to the school next door and a helicopter is in the air. They are on lock down and me and the baby are stuck in the parking lot.” The high school across the way was on ‘active shooter’ status. My brain scrambled at this and the only thing I could immediately think was “Tomorrow is the death anniversary of my husband, is August going to be the hell month of the year for the rest of my life?” I kept her on the phone, telling her to be calm, stay low and stay alert. I scoured the news for anything, any mention. There was nothing. I called my mom who is in that state and asked her to turn on the news. Also nothing. My daughter was shaking as she watched a group of bullet proof vested police surround the room her two sons were just whisked into. I continued to tell her to breathe, that shaking was from the adrenaline and she needed to clear those fight or flight chemicals from her body and stay alert but don’t move a lot. That the police were probably just being cautious and covering all of the ground and that the boys were fine. Finally news hit the internet, and I was able to discern that they believed it to be a hoax call reporting a gunman on campus. I called her up and read the headlines, but police were still streaming into the area in emergency status, helicopter was still circling both schools and the news cameras had arrived. Finally they were allowed to leave the school parking lot. I hung up and wanted to throw up, although I never belied my own fear in my voice or my words. I just wanted her to keep calm and focused, and safe.
How in the world do little children start their day like that and grow up to be normal? We worried about having cool clothes, or braces or glasses, and who liked whom – not if we were going to be gunned down at a freaking SCHOOL. What is wrong with our country? Who would call in a hoax like that, putting thousands of students, teachers, parents and law enforcement personnel into that kind of position?
But we were lucky, because it was not true. So many others in the last few years were not so lucky. Parkland, Pulse, Gilroy, Vegas, Dayton, El Paso. When I was trying to find current news, I had to reduce the search to the last hour because there were so many shooting deaths in the last few days/weeks/months – in one state alone. What are we going to do?
It breaks my heart and I have no answers.