Remembering Virginia Tech and How I have NOT Stopped Worrying, Since.
By Elizabeth Thompson
We each have a special place in our house -- small and cramped as it may be -- where the children and I like to go and disconnect...from each other. I also think it's important that each of my children understand that they can NOT expect to do everything together and insist that each of them have a chance for some alone-time, with mommy.
Which, on the surface, perhaps seems disruptive to the structure of what some professionals (and parents) would view as a fully-functional and healthy family life for my children.
On one hand, I agree and would never presume to encourage any person (adult, as well as child) to isolate themselves from the world, especially from those who perhaps care and love them the most.
But, there are days -- in my house, anyway -- when it seems that neither of us is afforded time enough to breath, let alone think, and even the simplest task, or request, becomes a trial and very quickly, can turn into an argument of mass proportions, which happens to fall on deaf ears.
No one is right, everyone is wrong and it's time to separate the girls from the boy.
Then, something terrible happens and every inch of me itches to jump into the car, race to each of my children's schools and remind them:
DO NOT talk to strangers.
Because, I can't.
On April 16, 2008, exactly one year since the attacks at Virginia Tech, I will be reminded of just that, yet I can’t bring myself to try and imagine the pain, or feeling terrified at the thought of losing any one of my children.
Take my child, you might as well rip out my heart.
What comfort could anyone give?
"I know why the flag is halfway down!"
Just like last year.
"It's because of those kids that got shot, right Mom."
"Who got shot?"
Here we go, again.
"Didn't mommy tell you NOT to talk about it in front of Mini-me?"
In my mind's eye, I remember the look that Little Man gave Thing Two.
"I didn't say ANYTHING about them getting killed in school!"
The two of them began fighting and Mini-me was still trying to understand whatever it was that would have caused someone to shoot their students.
I pulled over and tried to explain it to them.
That, yes, children were shot and a lot of them died and there is no reason (I could think of, anyway) that would sound “good enough” or “make sense” to their parents.
I didn't notice, until much later, that I started to scratch and developed a terrible rash.
"Yep, that's what I was saying why the flag was halfway down, because our school is sad and everybody is afraid - right Momma?"
"Aren't you afraid, Momma?"
What can I say -- to make them feel safe and secure, I mean -- when I haven't stopped worrying from the first day they were born?
I swallowed hard, took a deep breath and felt a sharp pain deep in my chest.
"Yes, but I don't think that any of us can stop all the bad from happening. No matter how careful we think we are. That’s when it's good to remember how much people care for us and why it's important that we do everything we can to help others remember, too."
My voice was cracking and I couldn't stop shaking.
"Don't worry, Mommy, we'll take care of you."
I took the kids food shopping, bought them some donuts and -- although, I still believe in alone-time with mommy -- I listened to my children, for once, and allowed them to worry all over me.
This year, I will enjoy spending the rest of the day hearing them argue about...well...everything else.
Virginia Tech -- we will not forget.
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