Thursday, October 16, 2008

What Happened in School Today

The phone rings. It is my daughter Amy calling from New Hampshire. "Mom?" Her voice is strangled. I brace myself but nothing has prepared me for what follows. "Stephie's school is under lock down. There's a gunman in the school. Steph called me on her phone ". Amy is on the verge of crying now. My heart beats so hard I have to sit down. Just last night she sent me Steph's senior picture. Shiny-eyed Stephie, eighteen years old, a high school senior poised on the edge of her adult life. Amy continues, "I could hear the teacher yelling, 'Be quiet. Listen to me. Stay down! Stay down!'" Old newsreels flash through my mind which rejects them immediately.

Central High is a big school, 4000 or so students in a vast group of older buildings. Twice last year the school was locked down with students inside. Once because a wife beater who had just killed a policeman was suspected of hiding there, and a second time when a student brought a weapon into the school. Now, I want to know where my granddaughter is in relation to the gunman, but there is no way of finding out. Amy herself lives close by but she is miles away at work and the whole high school neighborhood is cordoned off. She worries about the safety of 15 year-old Josh alone at home, not feeling well.

Failing to rob a restaurant across the street, three men are cornered by the police. One is arrested, another shoots himself, and the third one runs across the street into the high school. My mind weighs the information. Is he more dangerous than a desperate alienated teenager? Less? Will he surrender or take as many people as he can with him? I launch into a string of reassurances that I try to believe, "She'll be OK. She'll do as she is told . . ." Amy interrupts, "Steph is calling!" I sit on the edge of the bed. I have been there before, these terrible moments when you are alone, fearing the worst and can do nothing, nothing at all. Soon, Amy calls back: Stephie's class is out of harm's way. Eventually, all the kids are removed safely. It'll play itself out between the police and the gunman now.

Fear ebbs away and in its place rises a great rage against that bastard who terrified us, against the NRA and its specious arguments. Obama is in New Hampshire today campaigning away. Neither he nor McCain has touched on the issue of gun control. What if it were their daughter or granddaughter in that school? Stephie and her classmates are safe this time. What about next time?


Anonymous said...

Mom as I am reading your blog...I had to stop and ask myself, was that really how my day went today? At first Steph had called to say the school was on lock down, but no-one knew why, and she was frustrated because she had plans to go to the mall. Then the announcements started coming over the loud speaker at school, teachers became uneasy, in turn the kids did as well. I told her to stay away from the windows, and follow the teachers direction because they were trained to deal with this (at least I had hoped they were). I told her to call me back in 5 minutes, and I loved her. I wanted her to listen to the teachers but I also want to keep talking to her. She hung up and I waited sitting outside in the rain...5 minutes is a very long time.
Helpless, even if I had been I home the police would have kept me away. Unable to take my child to safety.
This issue is greater then just gun control, so many are loosing jobs and becoming desperate.
I am thankful everyone is safe today, I am thankful for my job and thankful I will be moving out of the city in 2 weeks.
I am thankful for you mom, who I still call when I need a solid fondation to stand on.
I love you.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Wow, what a frightening experience for you all! Times are scary, so much at stake for us all in the choices we have to make. Thanks for sharing your story.

Happy weekend, so glad your granddaughter is safe.


Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am so glad she is alright. Bless your heart, no one needs a fright like that one.

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Oh my goodness, this is so shocking. I have to say that I feel more confident about Obama and the control issue than I do the Republicans who seem to be in the hands of the NRA.

PS Your daughter's closing comment is so touching.

A Brush with Color said...

Yes, your daughter's comment is poignant. What a story! It's so true that our lives are so fragile in many ways... I think our country is in a real state of turmoil right now, and I do agree with your daughter that a lot of things come into play here. There really is a desperation for so many people who feel abandoned. I'll be so glad when elections are over, and I for one have voted (absentee ballot)for Obama. We need some shaking up to do to make some positive changes.

I need orange said...

So glad she is fine. How awful.

How anyone can argue with a straight face that it's good for guns to be so readily available I just will never understand........