Thursday, June 5, 2014

Today in Seattle

Yesterday and the day before, I kept running across an article on Facebook about a mom who had left her young son in the car for a few minutes while she ran into a store (in a safe neighborhood, on a cool day). And friends and I discussed it yesterday while our kids played in the backyard.  And I kept saying "we live in such a safe neighborhood in an affluent part of the city and I need to figure out what is safe and not for my kids. I don't want them to live in imaginary fear."

Today was a beautiful 70 degree day in Seattle. Rain is forecast for next week, so when I was picking up Ethan from school today, I mentioned to another K mom who lives close that we were planning to go to the park. Our families have kids close in age and we often go to our local park after school together. We both rounded up our kids and snacks and picnic blankets and headed that way. We all arrived and the kids downed the snacks in record time.  They played for a while and then came back for more snacks.

While they were eating, we heard sirens. We were discussing sirens and I mentioned the fact that I worked on an ambulance in college.  Conversation distracted me for a bit, but a few minutes later I realized there were more sirens. And about 5 minutes after that, still more. My friend pulled out her smart phone while she pushed her 2 year old on the swing and started looking for information. After a few minutes of updating me on random news bulletins, she went pale and said "there was a shooting at SPU".  We stared at each other for a bit, not entirely sure how to process this information. SPU is a quiet, small, private university on a gorgeous campus in the middle of one of the nicest neighborhoods in Seattle.  Vivian has been asking for weeks to go have a picnic on the lawn there, since we drive by it all the time and it's so shady and lush and beautiful.

My friend started grabbing her picnic stuff and asked me (with a smile on her face for the sake of the kids) if I wanted to relocate the playdate to her house. Given the fact that I live just 5 blocks from the university in question, I happily agreed.  We arrived back to her house (a whopping 8 blocks from the university) to the disconcerting news that there was still a shooter on the loose. We locked the doors and watched the news and hung out online while also calling our husbands.

Fortunately, the second shooter info turned out to not be true, which meant I could in all good faith return to my house, which is located just off the main roads and features a heavily wooded area behind. We would not have been returning there if things weren't supposedly safe.

On the way home, Ethan had picked up enough of what was going on to ask questions, and we also had to pass the roadblock that was on the edge of the campus, with police cars and flashing lights and arrived home to the sound of many news helicopters overhead. I was so thankful to have the Mr. Rogers quote come to mind that many people posted after another recent tragedy “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” 

One gunman, multitudes of people rushing to the scene within minutes to help. Everyone who knew about it praying and hoping for good news. The balance is tilted in the favor of good, despite everything. 

Someone died today and another is in critical condition and my heart absolutely is breaking for the university community and our neighborhood. My heart breaks for the parents who sent their child to a small, calm school in a safe neighborhood. I cannot imagine their pain. This is a close-knit community and almost everyone near us has a strong tie to the university and I know there are a lot of breaking hearts tonight.  SPU is now going to be one of those schools on the list where the worst happened out of nowhere. I really hate that.  Today is definitely not going to be a day that I can easily shake off.  Pray for those involved, please.


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