Archive for June, 2017

Waiting to Exhale

I was on my way to the bank when I received a message from my son’s school:

[Redacted] School  has been evacuated. All students & staff are safe. Now awaiting the all clear to return to the building shortly.

The school is right near the bank, so I had to drive past the school on my way to my next errand after the bank. The police had the school parking lot barricaded. There were police officers everywhere and there was a firetruck and fire marshals across the street. There were some faculty on the lawn at the far end of the parking lot (not directly in front of the school), but no sign of the students. This was not a drill. The students were clearly not on campus. Obviously, the school wouldn’t lie. They had told us that all students and staff were safe, so no need to worry, right? I soon discovered that students had been walked up to the firehouse several blocks up the road. This is the protocol for a bomb threat.

I tried not to worry too much. After all, students and staff were all reportedly safe. I went about my errands. Which kept taking me past the school. A dozen police cars, maybe. Did that seem like a lot? Still no sign of the students an hour (plus) later. This felt excessive, but was further evidence, to me, that this was *not* a drill. On my last pass by the school, traffic came to a stop and I was relieved to discover the reason: students were walking back to the school, with a police escort, and traffic had been stopped to allow students to cross. These students seemed too tall to include my son’s class. I put my car in park as I watched the long stream of students pass us by. Suddenly, there was a dip in the line of students and there were several shorter boys, including one that truly resembled Dennis the Menace, but wearing a bright red Mario & Luigi t-shirt. He bounced about as his favorite aide tried to keep him moving along safely in line. My sweet, predictable boy looked completely unruffled. Unconcerned. Unaware of any perceived danger.

It was then that I realized I had been holding my breath. I had been talking to a friend on the phone, trying to convince myself that I wasn’t worried. I let out a breath and tears started streaming down my cheeks. I felt ridiculous. Of course I had known all along that he was fine. The school had already assured parents that all students and staff were fine. But seeing him safe and sound, I realized I hadn’t really believed it until I saw him with my own eyes, no matter how illogical that may sound. The school takes such great care of him. They tell me about his milestones (he rode a two wheeler for the first time yesterday!) – a luxury they have with ten students and four adults in a classroom – and watch out for his rough days. They love him and he loves them, even on his rough days. I know they would never let harm come to him and if, chas v’shalom something should happen, they would never not tell me about it right away.

But, still, something about seeing him with my own eyes….*knowing* that he was okay… that made me realize that it was okay to breathe.

I will hug him tight when he comes home today. And he will look at me a little funny like I’m a bit crazy. And that’s okay.

Oh, we did get the official word, shortly after I watched him walk back into the building:

Update: As of 12:30pm authorities have given the all clear and students are safely back at the [redacted] Campus.

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