It feels like my brain has turned to mush. The last three months of waking up with Isaac during the night have definitely taken a toll. Until I get to regularly sleep through the night again, and my brain returns to normal, I will just keep doing my best to piece my thoughts together...
Last Thursday was a frightening day. The older I get, the more experiences I have that fill me with fear. Evil abounds in this world and these instances remind me that this world is not my home.
I remember how horrifying it was to watch the September 11 attacks, live on television, from my university student center. More recently I remember the shock of hearing about the Boston Marathon attack. I never expected to be so close to such an attack.
I normally listen to the radio while I am in the car, but for some reason I had turned it off on the way to my boot camp class at the Y. I believe I was having a conversation with Jack about why we obey the laws while driving.
When I arrived at the Y, my boot camp instructor was running around asking about keys. I just assumed she needed keys to unlock the closet where the weights are stored. When she came into the gym, she informed us all that the doors were all locked and that our kids were safe. I thought that was an odd statement but I assumed she was making sure the doors were locked so the kids couldn't sneak out. I had no idea that a sinister event was playing out in Chattanooga.
There were only a handful of people at the work out. I assumed that everyone was on vacation or just skipping. At the end of class I checked my phone and saw that I had several messages from my dad. In the middle of the day... which was odd. Then my instructor started to say something about an active shooter. Wait, WHAT? It was then that things started to click in my brain.
There was an active shooter. At the Riverpark. And he had not yet been stopped.
My dad called again and I let him know that we were ok, that I was collecting the boys and we were heading home. I told Jack that we couldn't stay and play on the playground like we usually did. He wanted to know why. So I revisited our earlier conversation about obeying the laws, telling him that someone was not obeying the laws and we needed to go home to be safe.
I quickly got the boys in the car and started driving. I called Daniel to make sure he had heard the news. He works an hour north of town so I knew he was ok. We drove home and I turned on the radio to listen to the news live. The shooter had been stopped. People were on lockdown. People had died. I silently wept and prayed as I drove.
Once home Jack wanted to make cookies. He had been asking for a couple of days to make cookies and I knew that was what we needed to do. He doesn't know that the world has evil in it. He didn't know, nor could he comprehend, what had just happened. So we continued with life. Business as usual. The business of a mom and her 3-year-old making cookies. The day felt very surreal. It still does. Did that really happen in our city?
I am so proud of the men and women who rushed to help. The first responders that worked to stop and contain the situation. I felt like everyone was calm and collected and did what needed to be done. Since the event I continue to hear stories like how two marines helped get people to safety before returning to search for others and ultimately getting shot. They are heroes. The police officer that ran toward the shooting, to help. He is a hero. Five men lost their lives in this terrorist attack in the city I call home.
The people of Chattanooga have pulled together in a way that makes me proud to live here. Proud to be an American citizen. People are choosing to continue living their lives. I know that shock still permeates our city, but by and large it seems like the people who live here are choosing to be #noogastrong and not allowing the events of last week take anything from them.
I continue to pray for the families that lost loved ones during this tragic incident.