This is my town.
School shootings don't happen in my town.
I'm at work when I get the news. I'm sitting at my desk, rubbing my temples. Lack of sleep, to much stress, and a really, really, REALLY boring procedure about Safety and Health. It's already not a good day.
A co-worker comes in and says, "There's been a school shooting."
I jump out of my chair.
She told me it was a high school.
I started searching the internet. Not on CNN. Not on MSNBC. Where was it? What was going on?
I found it on the local news station's website around the time my good friend Dawn emailed and said the boy who had been shot had died.
I went to the bathroom.
I don't know the boy who died. I don't know the shooter. I don't know any of those poor kids who had to witness a classmate being shot and killed.
But I do know this.
Whoever sent that boy off to school today had no way of knowing it would be the last time they saw him alive.
I thought of Boy and Girl Child. Fifth grade. Had I hugged this morning? Kissed them goodbye? Told them I loved them? Wished them a good day?
I couldn't remember.
Now this is becoming a racial issue. A "Take Jesus out of School and Hate comes in" thing. A "Rock and Roll Music is the Devil" thing. People are saying horrible things. People are divided. There is more anger and hate than I could ever imagine.
But a boy is dead. His mother will never get to hug him again or tell him she loves him. She'll never get to say, "Have a good day at school honey," or "I'll see you tonight."
The people who love him are suffering.
And really? The rest of us are suffering too. Our suffering is in no way comparable to his family. No way. But it's still suffering.
Because school shootings don't happen in our town.
We picked Knoxville because it's safe. It's a big city with a small town feeling. We could have a life here. Friends. A home. A church.
A good school for Boy and Girl Child.
We have to be afraid now. We'll never feel quite the same again. Things will change, forever. We'll have to fight the notion to speed down the road, grab our children, lock all the doors and never leave again. Just to keep them safe.
Because our version of safe is tainted now. We have to let them go back into the world, as scary as the world is. Life has to go on. We have to keep moving. We have to keep things going.
If you have babies, hug them tonight. If they are little children or if they are teenagers or anywhere in-between. Hug them. Ask them about their day. Tell them you love them. Tell them how much they mean to you.
You never know when you won't get another chance.
You never know when something like this will happen in your town.