“Oh-oh, I just got a notice that there is an active shooter warning.”
“At the preschool and all the schools in the area.”
My gut clenched and terror rose as I began to breathe quickly in a tight chest. All I could see was my blond-haired six-year-old grandson climbing the steps to his pre-school five states away from me and nothing I could do but worry helplessly. I called my brother for support. My voice shook as I told him the story and choked back tears. I said,
“I know you know.”
“Yup. I’m so sorry, That is very scary.”
“I kept thinking of when you got the call to come to the school to pick up your daughter and you told us, ‘It is the longest drive of your life when you don’t know if your child is alive.’ “
He told me, “hold your kids tight”, but my arms are empty because I live so far away.
He reviewed some of the facts of the 2006 Canyon Platte school shooting, where his teen daughter was left uninjured but traumatized.
“She gets triggered and calls me and we talk every time there is a new school shooting.”
I know that my (now 30-year-old) niece is part of a network of “school shooting survivors” who rush to comfort new victims in the USA. I think this kind of action in a country that just won’t budge on gun rights, is at least something that can be done that is admirable.
My brother told me to look for updates. I thanked him for being there for me. Then he said, “I left you a message earlier, did you get it?” “No.” “Sorry to tell you but our mutual friend Dana passed away early this morning.”
“What?” Now my body, with my shoulders up to my neck in fear for my grandson, plummeted down and hunched over in sorrow. I rekindled a friendship with petite and sweet Dana at our 50th high school reunion a few years ago, and we have been Facebook friends ever since. She was loving and supportive. I posted a watercolor I did of a hibiscus last week, and Dana texted, “Beautiful. It takes my breath.” And now her breath is gone. I knew she had been in hospice, but the last time I talked to her, she was feeling pretty good. My eyes widened in shock and pooled with tears.
After I got off the phone, I was swimming in turbulent waters of pain. I checked the news and heard a police officer say, “We had gotten a credible threat on Snapchat last night from a 19-year-old male and alerted the schools. We searched three places and found and arrested the potential shooter before he could take action.
Relief flooded through me. Later I spoke to my son-in-law who had just pulled into their driveway at home. I told him through my tears, “This must have been horrible for you as parents. Please hug the boys for me.”