Today was a BIG-thing kind of day. My head is still spinning.
In the wake of the yesterday’s news of the tragic shootings in Roseburg, I received a series of frantic text messages from my daughter who is a senior in high school this year.
“We are in lockdown. I’m safe.”
“It might be a drill but I’m not sure”
“There are police here, so I think it’s real”
“We’ve been in here for awhile”
Meanwhile, I was on the phone talking with Geoff and wondering why my phone kept beeping. I checked my phone, didn’t see any alerts, and thought it was an alarm going off.
All the while my sweet girl was anxiously awaiting my reply. Once I realized what was happening, I felt TERRIBLE for making her wait.
As soon as Geoff and I hung up, I looked down at my phone and saw 5 new text messages.
I quickly replied with, “I’m here!!!”
Another text came in saying “It’s real, someone brought a gun to school”
My breath caught and my heart stopped. I gave myself one of the quickest pep-talks ever, and prioritized my next actions in a matter of minutes.
“I love you!!! I’m praying!!!”
I called Geoff to fill him in and kept a stream of texts going to Chelsea…letting her know she wasn’t alone and God had her.
I quickly scanned through my contacts, looking for my friend’s name and hit the call button. I’m pretty sure I was talking a mile a minute. But, as soon as she heard what was going on, she began to pray. (I am so, SO blessed to have such amazing friends who drop what they are doing and offer immediate support.)
As I hung up, I wondered why in the world we hadn’t heard anything from the school or through FlashAlerts. There was no news of the situation online.
After trading several texts with my daughter, I breathed a sigh of relief when she finally told me they were safe, the lockdown was over, and some kid was arrested for having a gun. The police finally posted an update on social media, but the stories were conflicting.
In the midst of this, we received word that several schools across the state were also in lockdowns in response to possible threats.
What is going on in our country???
For whatever reason, the school administration decided to proceed with the school day as though nothing happened. Over half of the students chose to immediately go home instead. Many were in tears. Though nothing violent occurred, the circumstances felt real to many.
Chelsea and I continued to text as she weighed whether or not she wanted me to come and pick her up. Although she wanted to come home, she chose to stick it out another couple of hours. She knew leaving right away could potentially cause her school to become a scary place for her. Staying provided her some much needed time to process through the events of the morning with some of her friends and classmates.
1:30 couldn’t come soon enough for this concerned-momma.
Can I just tell you how relieved I was to see my oldest walk out of school this afternoon? So thankful to be able to hug her and know she was safe.
We sat in the car up the street from our house and talked. I listened as Chels shared details of what happened:
The lockdown was announced over the loud speaker. Her math teacher locked the classroom door, covered the window with cardboard, and turned out the lights. Together he huddled with his students in the corner of his dark room and tried to keep them quiet.
Texts came in from parents who worked at the district office and confirmed it was not a drill. Her math teacher encouraged them to text their parents and let them know something was going on. He cautioned them to keep the lights low on their phones, so it couldn’t be seen through the windows. (Never in my wildest nightmares would I have expected to hear these kinds of details falling from my daughter’s lips.)
What has this world come to?
They knew the drill well. For them, this is the norm. Just last week they had a lockdown drill. If teachers forget to lock the door during the drill they are told, “Your class is now dead.” (I’m sure many laughed at the time. Today I didn’t find that comment the slightest bit funny. It made my stomach burn with acid.)
It almost sounds like a video game, doesn’t it? Sadly, though this is real life, in the year 2015 for American students across the country.
As I listened to Chelsea talk, I was reminded of similar stories being recanted by campus shooting survivors over the years. Thankfully, thankfully, today’s story had a different ending.
If the news being reported is correct, a 15-year-old girl decided to make up a story about a gun at school. One little lie resulted in a world of terror and stress for countless individuals and families. I can’t even begin to guess what she was trying to accomplish, but can only hope good will eventually come out of this situation.
It’s easy to feel angry, but dangerous to stay angry.
Yes, today is a day of processing BIG-things. I don’t have any insights or answers.
I’m grieving the loss of my daughter’s felt-safety and the trauma so many kids and adults are processing.
I’m praying for the senseless acts of hatred and violence that are overcoming our country to cease.
And, I’m praying for our world as a whole.
Sometimes it feels impossible to find the good in such an awful situation. Tonight as I continue to pray for those affected by the shooting that happened 3 hours away from my daughter’s school, I am choosing to focus on the fact that thankfully there were no more lives taken.
Photo credit: Amy Jo Ivey / American Flag, Main Street, Franklin, TN / March 2015