Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Tuesday Afternoon


My husband came home from work yesterday. It was close to seven pm, and he was exhausted. But he came home.

I have a few things to say about that.

Yesterday afternoon I saw a question online about a lockdown at my husband’s school. The poster made it clear that it was not a drill. The question quickly grew into an active thread. As students were texting parents from inside the building, their anxious parents were sharing what they knew.

I rarely text my husband at work but yesterday was different. He confirmed they were on lockdown, and that the building was silent. His guess was that if anything was happening, it was outside.

For the next several hours, that was what I clung to. The building was silent. I thought of all the things he might be hearing but wasn’t: gun shots, screams, overturned furniture, running, breaking glass, explosions. I tried to push them from my mind. 

No, I willed them from my mind.

I reached out to the pastor of our church for moral support. A friend texted me to see if I was okay. I wondered if I should tell our daughters what was happening. I didn’t know what to do with myself.

You probably know all this, but, ten years from now, someone may stumble across this post and I want them to know. A telephone call to the school started it all: a claim that someone in the school had a gun and a bomb and meant to do harm. And then everything proceeded according to plan.

Our schools have plans for this. They practice them. The students know when it is not a drill. So every year they practice as though it’s just another thing to do, going through the motions. And then they go home and see the horrors of incidents like Uvalde, Parkland, Sandy Hook. They believe it will never happen to them and they carry it inside their heads at the same time.

I’m going to tell you what I know even though I was not there. Yesterday teachers and school staff and administrators took care of our community’s children. And those children - - teens, really - - took care of one another, too. The lights were off and the direction was to be silent or as quiet as possible. But I know that there must have been whispered statements of reassurance. Kind words. Caring looks and gestures. 

There is courage, and even love, in the small acts of kindness in the silence and in the dark. In moments like these that’s all we have: the will to care for one another even when we are afraid.

I’ve already seen a lot of praise for the local police response, which was swift and substantial. I’m grateful that I’ve also seen praise for the school community’s handling of the incident. Sometimes they are forgotten. They don’t have impressive vehicles and uniforms. We don’t see what they do. And what they do, even on a day when no shots are fired, is life-saving. Please don’t forget them.

The police investigation found no weapons or other destructive devices. They evacuated the building and students were taken to an offsite location for dismissal. Teachers, staff, administrators stayed well beyond their work day to reunite students with their parents. That’s what they do. That’s who they are. 

Often in these posts I have an argument to forward or a point to make. Today is not that day.

Yesterday my husband came home from work. Right now he is asleep in bed. That’s all there is. There is no more.

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