It happened today, the “it will never happen to me” situation. It did happen and it has happened before.
Today, one month after a deadly shooting in a middle school, and three weeks after the deadly University shooting, and days after several area school lockdowns, my son’s school was locked-down.
As I stood in the parking lot across from his school, thoughts of times past began to creep into my mind. About 14 years ago, I cradled the same child locked in the school in my arms as a man armed with an AK-47 crouched on my patio. I could see him through the sliding glass doors. I stupidly thought that it was a guard. At the time of this incident, I was living in Saudi Arabia. Terror attacks were becoming commonplace in the Kingdom all aimed at killing westerners. So, having a guard on your back patio was a good thing. The bad thing…it wasn’t a guard. It was a man who eventually stood eye to eye with my husband as he fired off a few rounds from his gun. I heard my husband yell – Get down, Gaby, get away from the windows!
I first ran to the phone and again, stupidly thought 9-1-1 would work. I heard the Arabic word for “sorry” and I realized I was in a third world country. While running up the stairs to grab my daughter, I slipped and dropped my infant son. I scooped him up and grabbed my daughter out of her bed. I threw the both of them into a closet and began to cover them with clothing. I sat in the darkest of all closets crying. I felt helpless and hopeless. I couldn’t protect my children.
Today, the feelings came back. Once again, I couldn’t protect my child. Twice in my life, I couldn’t protect my child! I watched from a far as K-9 units were dispatched. I listened as school officials told me what they knew, but I heard what they said. They couldn’t guarantee my child’s protection.
Everyone will eventually get a wake-up call. That call may come in the form of a personal or professional experience or a legal problem. When the call comes, you have two choices: either wake up or hit the snooze. These moments of fright offer insight into our lives. Will you protect your child? Will you protect your job? Will you protect your reputation? Or, will you protect your anger? Greed? Secrets?
Put your life and your legal problems into perspective. Pick your battles, choose what needs protecting, and cherish the ability to do so.