Our high school received a shooting threat this week. A one-sentence note scribbled on a bathroom stall that sent kids and parents into varied states of fear.
And although school authorities immediately began work to check the validity, security was upped, and a message was sent to ease our worries, for this mom it was unsettling, to say the least.
I first learned about it while at work. On a home visit, a mom mentioned it in conversation and part of my heart froze. But I carried on, even with a lump in my throat.
Even though I knew he was ok, taking the long way home to see his car in the parking lot where he worked helped ease my nerves. As he often does after his shift, he called me before heading to the house.
“Mom, can I take a personal day tomorrow?” he said.
Without hesitation I allowed. Explanations weren’t even necessary. At this point, we hadn’t even had a chance to discuss what occurred at school but it didn’t matter. If my 18-year-old, 6 foot 3 son didn’t feel safe, there was no way I could (or would) force him to go to school. A two-year perfect attendance record means nothing when there’s a threat it could be their last day.
I know every day is a risk. Warnings, threats, or potential storms don’t have to be predicted for disaster to strike. Loss can happen on the most perfect day, when there are no signs or symptoms.
As a child-loss mom, inflamed worries and irrational fears are normal. Protective mode on steroids. Your parental red flags are always up, ready to swoop in and save or prevent something terrible. Even if you know it’s over the top and unrealistic. Because the sad reality is, you’ve already faced your worst nightmare.
In the early days of losing our oldest son – suddenly and without warning, everything seemed a danger for our then eight-year-old. I remember waking in the night and physically needing to go to his bedside, just to watch him sleep. How a fever could send me spiraling, on my knees in anxiety. And how any outing sent my mind on endless “what if” scenarios. The first year was most definitely unnerving.
Although it’s been a decade, I don’t know there will ever be a point that I don’t worry about my son’s well-being. That we don’t send up daily prayers for safety and protection. He’s an adult now, for all intents and purposes, but that doesn’t change my need to be concerned. In fact, in some ways, it increases the risks because he is making more choices on his own. But I’m grateful when it comes down to it, he still calls mom for advice. I’ll choose to keep him safe every time.
Photo credit: Twitter/@skenigsberg