My children are home, safe, and dinner is in the oven. We receive an automated phone call from our school district. My oldest answers. And her eyes grow larger, her hand flies to her mouth and she says, “Oh, no.”
Within seconds, I decide that I’ll home school my children, that I will take them out of their extracurricular activities, that we will move to the mountains and live like the Ingalls.
My child misunderstands the name of the school and we frantically call friends who attend the one she thought had been attacked. No, they’re fine. It was a different school. I start to cry and hug my child and think about how precarious a grasp we have on life.
The shooter was a man in his 20’s. The victims were a 7th grader and an 8th grader. He stood outside the door of the school and shot at about the time the children were leaving.
And I hate. For all I try to think “look at the pain of the aggressor” all I can see is the fear of the children. Why children? Shoot me, you homicidal maniac. If you need to find a victim, try me on for size. I’m not so big. I’m not so strong. And I don’t carry any weapons, either. So come after me, but leave the babies alone.
Maybe they won’t die. Maybe they’ll recover from the gunshot wounds. And children are resilient (I repeat to myself over and over again). They’ll have some therapy, they’ll have lots of hugs and kisses and lots and lots of tears and they’ll grow up to be adults who are deeper and stronger. Maybe.
Maybe they’ll never get over it. Maybe they’ll see him in their nightmares for the rest of their lives. Maybe whenever a door bangs shut they’ll fall to the ground in fear. Maybe, even if they seem to overcome it, they’ll carry the weight of this experience forever.
I’m glad it isn’t my school. I’m sorry it’s someone else’s school. I’m glad my children are home tonight. I’m sorry that someone’s child is in the hospital. And I wish, oh, I wish, that the shooter had died before he ever got the chance to pull his gun.