So my 15-year old daughter is away for the summer working out of state. She opted for this after the end of the year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She seems to really be enjoying herself and working hard, though she rarely ever calls home. I know from what family members tell me and a few pictures I can see on social media and sporadic late night face-time calls.
Today, at 12:50pm, in the middle of the work day, she called my cell phone. Rare. My heart momentarily stopped. I couldn’t even say “hello” properly. I said, Hi, what happened?” “Nothing, she replied, (thankfully,) it's just I found out that we don’t have to use clear backpacks at school this year.” “Oh that’s great! I said. I am happy for you. What else? I asked. “That’s it, gotta go, bye, love you.” And with that she hung up.
Whew! I thought to myself. My immediate instinct was to think something bad happened. Ever since Feb. 14, 2018, it is an underlying fear I have. That was the day she texted both her father and I (at 2:35p.m.) to tell us there was an active shooter in her school. That is the one text (or call) no parent EVER wants to receive! That fateful day of Feb. 14th, she said she could hear someone crying and praying because they had been shot. She said she was in the 1200 building on the 3rd floor. She said she was hiding and that she was fine but that she was terrified. After that, we lost comunication with her for 30-40 minutes!
That was the most terrifying thirty to forty minutes of my life not knowing if my child was dead or alive. I know she was scared for own life as well. That day was "hell" for everyone involved.
Fast-forward to the simple phone call today to share news with me. Sure it was an over-reaction on my part, I guess, but it just took me momentarily, to a dark place and thought. Thankfully, it was good news. It may seem like no big deal, but the news of that rule (no clear backpacks) being implemented made her day, enough to actually call me. I imagine it was a feeling of a sense of privacy returned. It is a small sense of normalcy returning.
Who knows how each of these students will react as they return back to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, when summer is over. after what was, a long and painful end to the school year.
My hope is that with some of the changes that have been implemented over the summer, such as no more clear pack backs, (pilot) metal detectors being installed (hopefully in the Fall 2018,) fire alarm tones being altered, higher fencing, and extra school resource officers (SRO's,) there will be some semblance of security and a feeling of getting back to “normal”
Realistically, we all know things will never be the same for anyone of these students or anyone affected by the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas, but we have to find the silver lining wherever we can and keep moving forward to make things better, especially when it comes to gun violence awareness and safety in our schools!