My husband and I were bringing Chloe home from dance when we got the call. Danielle, whose little voice cracked with fear, called our cell phone and gave us the news, "Where are you? Please hurry home. I'm at Grandpa's." Today my daughter's school was dismissed early. I would love to say it was a planned dismissal for parent conferences, or because snow covered roads had school officials concerned. But it wasn't. "There was a bomb threat at the school," Danielle finished.
I knew she was home safe which was an instant relief to me, but still I was scared. What was going on? What is coming of this world? A world where we can't even send our children to school and feel safe. I couldn't even imagine the terror that Danielle felt as she awaited dismissal.
I was right about that. She was petrified - although the teachers did not tell the children what was going on. They were simply shuffled from place to place, with ominous announcements coming from the loud speakers. She recounted the whole story to me, but only wept at one point. She got up extra early this morning to go for a run with her father before school. She and her dad just started doing this recently and it's special to her because he works second shift and she rarely gets one-on-one time with him. Through her tears and squeaky voice she said, "All I could think was 'Would this morning be the last time I ever run with my dad?'" Such finality. So wrong for a girl almost 12 to be thinking. Again, what is this world coming to?
We live right across the street from the school. Through trees and a couple houses lined up in front of ours, we could see the police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. We could hear sirens and barking bomb sniffing dogs alerting others of impending danger. As I walked my children back to our house from my in laws (they live right next door) we heard what sounded like an explosion. Maybe it wasn't just a threat - some kids thoughtless idea to get out of school for the day. Maybe it was real. A real bomb in my daughter's school. This is real. And it's really scary.
I thought of the victims of Virginia Tech. I thought of the fear they must have experienced; the terror. I imagined what the parents and loved ones of the students who go there were thinking, feeling. Worry. Terror. Impatient to get a phone call. Not that I hadn't thought of that before, but today intensified everything for me.
I also thought of all the news stories, "____________ school was dismissed early today because of a bomb threat." How many times had I heard that before, and somewhere in the back of my mind thought, We are safe here. Nothing will ever happen at our school.
I still do not know if the noise I heard was a bomb being detonated. It doesn't matter. The children in this town are safe right now and I've been enlightened. I'm so glad we have today. I'm thankful for my two beautiful girls and a husband who is my rock and strong place. Today, as I try to push back the fear of the unknown, I am counting my blessings. For today, my daughter is safe.