I don't know what to title this post. There is no collective word I can think of that will neatly summarize how I am feeling. I am beyond categorizing this.
Monday morning, I was sitting at my desk at work. It as a little after 7:30 am, when a man from another department comes walking into the building talking loudly on his cellphone. Cell phones in use in our office is a big no no, so I knew something was wrong, but I thought about it as more along the lines of something personal for him or something that he would wrap up quickly. Once he ended the call, he explained that his daughter attended Chardon High School. He said that his daughter had told him that there had been shots fired there, but that she was okay.
My co-worker sat down to work, and I ever so briefly scoured a few local news sites to see if I could read anything about this, but I wasn't finding anything. His manager told him he could go if he'd like and he said no. He said there was no use in going if he didn't have anywhere to go. His daughter was safe and that's all he knew at the moment. He did end up leaving once the high schoolers were officially evacuated to a nearby elementary school. But prior to that I remember thinking that he was a better person than myself. Even though, intellectually I know it is not a good idea and would have caused more harm than good, I would have needed to have been as close as possible. I would have been circling the blocks if necessary.
As it was, I wanted my kids with me so desperately, and they weren't involved in any of it. I couldn't stop thinking about our kids, and those kids, and the hurt kids, and the kid with the gun. They are all kids. Possibly a little less now.
So all day, I learned what I could on breaks and quick glimpses of the internet and I thought about how I was going to handle this with Madeline and Noah. Coincidentally, Monday turned out to be a horrible day at work for me. Quite possible they worst day I have every had professionally. So, by the time I was able to pick up my kids I was emotional and sad at all of the events throughout all parts of my day. I decided that I would talk to them at home that evening. I have always been very honest and frank with my kids about subjects that others deem touchy, so this wasn't going to be handled any differently.
I walked into daycare and I hugged Noah tight. I told him I missed him. I walked over to Madeline and hugged her tightly as well and told her I missed her too. She said, "I missed you too. Mama, did you hear what happened?" First words out of her mouth. So that was it. We were doing this. We were talking about this.
I'm still not certain as to whether or not the heard that five teenagers had been shot by another student at school or at daycare or somewhere in between. But they heard and they knew and they wanted me to reassure them. We talked about safety. We talked about sadness. We talked about bullying. We talked about teenagers. We talked a lot. We're still talking about it and I hope we always do. I'm just happy that we talk . I'm happy that I'm open with them. I'm happy that they're honest with me. I am not dramatic or shocking when I speak with them. But I am firm and frank and I get my point across. I think that's the most important thing I can do.
I can't believe this has happened so close. I lived in Chardon until I was eight. I have friends and family members who have graduated from Chardon High. I take my grandmother shopping to the town of Chardon most every Saturday. The store at which we shop was the sight where some of the victims were airlifted from. We pass the high school on the way to the library there. We try to attend the Maple Festival there each year. An event I have gone to since I was a child.
It's devastating. It's heartbreaking. There's so much to be discussed. The school, the victims, the troubled teen shooter. But those are for outlets other than this. This is my experience. This is what I shared with my family. This is something that won't be forgotten. Something that children of an entire local generation, including my own, will carry with them from this day forward.