Yesterday started out really well. I felt great. I was motivated and able to accomplish a lot. I was pumped at how much I crossed off my to do list.
Once I was done working,I went to pick up my son at school in the afternoon like I always do. I found a spot to park in right out front and waited for dismissal time. To pass the time I texted one of my best friends and my husband while also playing a game on my tablet. At one point I heard what sounded like teens messing around somewhere behind my van but when I looked in my review mirror, I saw nothing.
I also heard what sounded like a gunshot, but I thought maybe I heard wrong or my brain was imagining it. It wasn’t a loud sound. Not like I’ve heard from guns I’ve shot myself, so I brushed the sound off and went back to my game and texting.
A short while later, maybe ten minutes, a cop knocked on my window and told me I needed to leave the area immediately. I asked if I would be able to get my son and he told me no and I needed to leave right then. I’m not one to argue with a cop. I respect authority, and I knew if he was telling me to leave, something big was going on. I did as instructed and drove towards the cop at the other end of the street. It only took a few moments to get there but in that time I started freaking out about driving away from my son. I felt like I was abandoning him, which is something a parent never wants to do or feel.
What I wanted to do was rush into that school and be with my son.
I wanted to hold him and reassure him all would be okay.
I wanted to protect the other students too.
As a parent, I knew exactly what all the other parents were feeling as they were told the school was on lockdown and no one was allowed down that street. It all washed over me and overwhelmed my heart and mind.
I ended up pulling over outside the FairPoint building in our town, which is just around the corner from the school. I then called the director at my son’s school to find out what was up. She didn’t know much beyond what I did. She had seen someone on a roof with what she thought was a BB gun, but that was it. A cop hadn’t been in to see her at that point, but as we talked, though, one showed up and she let me go.
From there I called my husband and said I needed him to come home from work. Because I didn’t have a lot of info, I was scared the situation wouldn’t be resolved quickly, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle my emotions myself if wasn’t. Aside from being an empath, I also have bipolar disorder and anxiety so my emotions can rapidly spin out-of-control.
As I talked to my husband my phone beeped and it was another mom calling to see if I knew anything. I told her what little I knew. Once I was done talking to her, another mom called and asked me the same question. I told her, and she told me what she heard from a cop parked at the end of another road by the school. He told her there was a guy running around with a rifle. Then she saw another cop pull up and grab a gun from his vehicle and take off running down the street.
At this point is where I preceded to LOSE MY SHIT! The new pieces of info made my mind freak out. I couldn’t help but think about what would have happened had the guy in question walked up and shot me. I was parked two spots up from the Stop sign right outside the school and across the street. And everything was going on right there.
I’m assuming those types of thoughts are fairly normal for anyone in that situation.
Or maybe not.
Maybe that’s my messed up brain talking. Either way, in my mind the fear coursing through my body was valid. I sobbed uncontrollably. I couldn’t breathe. I’m assuming it was anxiety attack but it very well could have been a panic attack.
While struggling to get my emotions in check, I kept talking to the other two moms. I ended up driving to the police station, which, thankfully, is a minute down the road from the school. The two moms and I talked as other parents pulled up with no clue about what was going on. For me, the entire thing seemed to drag on forever but in reality was only 40 minutes or so.
When we were able to finally get our kids, only 15 minutes after normal pickup time, I was shaking like a leaf but knew I had to keep my emotions under control for my son. I didn’t want him to see how scared I was. I also wasn’t sure how much he’d been told, and I wanted to be able to address any questions he had without crying.
Unfortunately, one of the kids in the school had told him about the guy and the gun. I’m not sure how the student found out but he told other students, so I was confronted with questions as soon as my son ran up to me. His friend ran over to me, too, and was a wreck. I hugged her and told her she was okay and that I would wait with her until her mom pulled up.
My son, during this, was stoic. As we walked to my vehicle, he told me he had been fierce during the entire time he was in the gym and that he had put on his angry face. I’m not certain, but I think he went into protection mode because of his tae kwon do training. (He’s almost a blackbelt.) It wasn’t until we were almost home that he broke down and cried. He couldn’t understand why he hadn’t cried before when others had. He didn’t understand why it took him so long to. I explained he may have been in shock or it was his training kicking in.
Luckily, we found out the incident was in fact teenagers being stupid. But that still doesn’t make my fears go away. It doesn’t fix what I felt yesterday. I have never felt so terrified, helpless, sad, lost, etc. I can still feel it all today, and thinking about it makes me want to cry.
I’m grateful, though, that no one was hurt and the cops were able to resolve the issue quickly. I’m also grateful for the swift actions of the school and the adults within it. They got all of our kids into a safe place and watched over them until all was well again. I can’t thank all of them enough for keeping our babies safe.