The scenes some saw on the news, people I love were living. My friends frantic to reunite with their children. Children falling into their parents arms in tears. My sister explaining to her preschool aged daughter why mamma had to park a mile away from big sisters school to walk and pick her up and why there were so many people and why there were armed police surrounding the school.
The day of the shooting I was already reading comments on news stories saying ,"At least no one died." Guess what? Someone did die, the gunman. The parents of an 18 year old boy not only have to survive Christmas without their son, they also have the weight of what their child did casting a dark shadow over their Christmas and every day of their lives henceforth.
And guess what else? It is still traumatic even though only one other person was shot. Imagine sitting at your desk at work and hearing gunshots begin. You don't know who is shooting or where the shots are coming from. You don't know if there is one or ten shooters. You don't know if there is one shotgun or several bombs. You hide, terrified and pray for it to end. The shots end. The police come to escort you from your desk to the parking lot but they want to make sure you weren't involved from the shooting side, so they take you outside where media helicopters cannot wait to snap pictures of you with your hands in the air being patted down for weapons. You cannot get your purse, you must leave your car, phone, laptop and any other belongings that aren't on your person when you leave the building. You have to ride on a bus to another location and have to wait with 2000 other people to finally find your family and for them to know you are safe.
Folks, that is traumatic. While I remain grateful with the rest of the world that the casualties were not large, I refuse to allow myself to be so desensitized that I think the trauma is less because only 2 were shot and only the shooter died. And once again we have proof that bad thing happen everywhere, even in good neighborhoods.
I have to go back to the words that struck me so strongly last year when the Newtown shooting happened.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me."I cannot and will not promise my children they are safe. My friends sent their kids to school on Friday without a thought in the world about their safety once inside the school but something happened to bring them to an unsafe situation. There are a lot of unsafe situations in this world and I cannot guarantee that my children will not ever encounter them. I can however guarantee them that Jesus is with them. In the valley of the shadow of death, He is there with us. We don't have to fear the evil around us, He is with us even when evil surrounds us.
There is my hope. My hope is in Emmanuel, the God who is with us. Once again, I will hug my children a little tighter tomorrow morning before I send them off to school. Once again I will send them to school with a lump in my throat and a prayer for safety on my tongue. And once again I will pray most of all that they will remember that Jesus is with them when they are afraid.
Jesus, help me to trust you to be with my children as much as I ask them to trust that you are with them. Be with Claire as she still struggles to live from the gunshot wound she received. Be with her family, bring them comfort. Be with her doctors, give them wisdom. Be with the AHS family. Help them to feel your presence and your peace that surpasses all understanding as they cope with the trauma and terror of their school becoming a battleground. Thank you for being Emmanuel. Thank you for being the God who came to be with us.