It started with a recorded message from the school district. A voice informed me that my child’s school was on lockdown. There were no other details.
My child happened to be home from school that day. My fear jumped to thoughts of my sister who is a teacher at the school. Then I thought of other parents whose children were in school that day. Then I thought of my child who could have been in school that day.
There were no details.
I texted my sister. She is the only living member of my immediate family. I talk to her at least three times a day. No response.
My child came into the room. “The school is on lockdown,” she told me as she read texts from her friends inside the building. They had no idea what was happening.
“This is a Goddamn nightmare,” I thought as I tried to show no fear. My mind flashed forward to the evening news reports. Was my community about to be the next school shooting? Would students and teachers be victims again?
There are moments before and there are moments after. The line between them is as thin as a sliver.
I endured the moment before and the moment after when I waited to hear whether my other sister was alive years ago.
I was on summer break from college; 20 years old. The phone rang. It was my sister’s friend asking to speak to my mother. Something in her voice made me pause for a moment before I reacted.
“I need to talk to her now,” she said. “Lissa might be dead.”
I jumped up and told my mother to pick up the phone. My sister was in a car accident. “Lissa might be dead.”
My mother listened and then hung up the phone. We had to wait for her friend to call us back with more information.
The moment before the moment after.
Yesterday, before I knew whether my sister was alive or dead I was brought back to that moment. Tension crawled across my neck and shoulders like a spider. Suppressed trauma rose in my body.
My neck still hurts today.
A text from my sister let me know she was okay.
I’d been spared from having to worry about my child. That moment before and after would have brought me to my knees. I’ve overcome a good deal of trauma in my life. Thinking of it was like staring into an endless tunnel. I am grateful I didn’t have to enter.
And yet so many parents had to experience that horror. Some friends had spouses and children in that building. They waited unsure what was happening to their entire family.
Two students brought guns to school. That is what happened. A community stood still collectively holding our breath. Children experienced what children should never experience.
This moment before and this moment after were handled efficiently by administration, staff and the police department. There was no in between where lives were shattered and forever changed.
But trauma rose in the bodies of every person connected to yesterday’s events. My hope is that they acknowledge it and take good care.
You can find more of Tania’s writing at Buy Me A Coffee