Yesterday, in the midst of a beautiful, not a cloud in the sky kind of day, the kind of day that makes you happy to be alive, I get a text from my college age son. It’s a text which he’s received from his school’s emergency warning system:
With my heart in my throat, I quickly text back, “Are you in a place you feel safe?”
“I think so. I’m in class. In the basement of a building,” he responds.
My husband who is also on the thread tells him to, “sit tight.” He asks what class he’s in and our son replies, “macro.” “Safe,” responds my husband, “No one will come there.”
Then an update:
A person was injured in a shooting on the Danforth Campus at Forsyth near the Mallinckrodt Center. Continue to shelter in place…We will share information as we have it.
With nothing to do but worry, I turn to Twitter and see a handful of tweets coming from students, pictures of barricaded doors and reports from professors that their students are terrified.
My son texts, “Hoping they’ve locked all buildings,” and for some reason that text breaks my heart. Even though I have a pit in my stomach, I never really feel panicky or that my son’s life is truly in danger but the thought that a locked door might keep a shooter from his prey makes me inexplicably sad.
And then another update:
UPDATE: No new information is available about shooting on Forsyth Blvd. Please continue to shelter in place…We will share more information as it becomes available.
While waiting for word of an all clear, I text with another parent I know with a child on campus. It’s comforting to talk to someone who is as worried as I am.
And then finally at 2:45 PM:
ALL CLEAR. The campus emergency is over. You may resume your normal activities…
It’s as if nothing happened and, to you, nothing really has. You can unbarricade the doors and still your trembling hands and galloping heart and resume “normal activities.” While I’m extraordinarily grateful that everyone is okay, I hate that it happened at all.
I hate that while you sit in a place of higher learning you are given the imperative to “GO TO a place that you feel safe and stay there.”
I hate that “shelter in place” has become a thing and that we are all now familiar with it’s meaning and yet I suspect we say it only in the face of our own helplessness because we really don’t know what else you can do to stay out of harm’s way.
I hate that there is not a single thing I can do to protect you and you should know that while you are in lockdown mode, so am I.
I hate that life is so unpredictable, changeable and that yes, full of things to fear.
I hate that I have done my utmost to send you into the world whole, and you will come back to me a little broken.
And, I hate that all I can think of to say to you is, “I’m sorry.”
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