Yesterday was about keeping it all together. People I love needed me. I didn't have time to fall apart. And honestly I wasn't ready to fall apart. I was shaken but I think I was in shock still. The shock was too great to allow the emotion through. I chatted online with my friend. I told her I felt guilty for feeling so shaken because there are so many people who have more right to be shaken up than I do. She responded with, "When it happens in your backyard, you have the right to be shaken."
My backyard. Almost. If I walk to the corner I can see the mall. The theater is in the mall parking lot. My Girl called last night (she needs a name, I talk about her far too often to keep calling her my friend. For now she will be S until I decide on something better). She asked if my boys were asleep. When I said yes she asked if she could come over. She wasn't hysterical anymore but I could hear the tears in her voice.
She walked in and I pulled her into my arms and held her while she sobbed. And then I heard the words I hoped I'd never hear. "Micayla is no longer with us." I didn't know Micayla but S did. Micayla was part of the group of friends that S was supposed to be with to see the movie. Seven of her friends went, she was supposed to go. Only one was physically injured, the one who died.
When she heard of the shooting, S called her good friend. He described the horror of a 6 year old girl screaming hysterically and the frantic rush to try to get out. On the way out the 7 friends were separated. He thought everyone was fine. Then later he told her that Micayla was missing. And then later she was confirmed dead. My sweet S was supposed to be there. It could have been her.
As I walked her to her car I was thinking how much I love her. I introduced her to my dear friend and now neighbor. S tried to shake hands but my friend shook her head and said, "No, Honey. You get a hug!" As they embraced the emotion finally came. I pulled S away and held her tightly.
We both sobbed. I told her how much I love her. I told her how relieved I am that she is safe. I told her that I have never in my life been so glad that she was too tired to hang out with friends. I told her that I can't imagine a world that doesn't have My S in it and that I'm so glad that I don't have to. I didn't want to ever let her go. Suddenly the reality and depth of my emotions hit me full force.
I slept poorly. Guns and blood and bombs and screams filled my dreams. I woke this morning to the sound of helicopters. They have been flying over non-stop providing live aerial news coverage. Helicopters and sirens and ambulances seeped into my sleep. I was grateful this afternoon for a reprieve from the sound of helicopters. The sound is disconcerting.
We had to tell our kids last night. It was hard. We had to tell them though. The mall was closed. Streets that we travel regularly were closed with police tape. People in our church have lost loved ones. They will hear about this, we wanted it to be from us. Parenting is hard. Telling your kids about bad people who make evil decisions is hard. Reminding them that there are far more good people than bad people in this world is hard. I have squeezed them extra hard today. I've hugged them every chance I've had. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. Do the people you love know how much you love them in case tomorrow never comes for you to tell them?