Dark, dank, depressing, forlorn, melancholy and dreary. The thesaurus is no help finding words that explain the feelings of this morning.
I was in the Crayola Factory with my own children on Friday. A place full of rainbows and color when I started to hear the news. My heart started sinking and my mind started racing. I was incredibly sad, but again, words really escape me as to what the true emotion is.
Ethan’s school has been in lock down before. It was late in the day when a local bank was robbed and the armed assailant was unable to be apprehended. A bus driver in the parking lot ready to pick up the children felt that she saw a person walking through the woods surrounding the school. We received a call that the drill had begun of turning out lights, seating children away from windows and other safety measures were enacted. It was of course very scary, but comforting to know that Ethan was in his ‘element’ with people who knew and loved him and were prepared to follow FBI instructions until the area was clear. It took longer than we would have liked to get the call that everyone was safe and the kids were permitted onto their buses. It is so hard to think of the parents on Friday who did not get that call.
I hear lots of discussion about mental health stemming from this incident. I have sought psychiatric help for a child of my own – only to find dead ends and little help or understanding or competent care. I have been with friends as the recommendation to call law enforcement for a police escort to the local emergency room, that was not well-equipped to help a child, was the only solution given. I have watched a friend go to a mental health facility to pick up a child who was no more well than he was 7 days before because that is what the insurance company covered. I grew up with a friend who’s brother was mentally ill from anyone’s earliest memory. I watched as she developed coping mechanisms to keep herself safe when he was out of control. I watched as his parents sought every type of intervention for him – from psychiatrists to schools, boot camps to religious counsel – but ultimately the family was responsible for keeping him, my friend their family and the community at large safe. Their most peaceful time in life was when he was incarcerated for aiming a gun at a police officer. He sadly remains an untreated adult.
My sister and I discussed what is was like to send our children off to school this morning, and we discussed how it feels to let them go. This incident just brings up a general feeling of lack of safety, which I wonder if there is a cure for right now. Praying is what helps me.
All of the information swirls in my head causing conflict and confusion, but each and every time I feel that, I am reminded that there are families who are having to bury children and family members and I can hardly breathe. I have parties to plan for, cards to mail, cookies to make and presents to wrap and buy and it all seems to have less meaning than it did 72 hours ago.
I am trying to figure out what I would change in my own life if today were my last day. As depressing as that is, I feel it is a worthy exercise. I need to wash dishes and prepare food, do laundry and sweep floors. I need to attend to questions and quarrels and the exuberance of the boys I spend every day with. I am a wife and mother, a friend, a daughter and a sister. Last week these things seemed mundane and routine. Today, these activities seem somehow holy, and somehow sacred. Is that the message?