Thursday, August 21, 2008

Things like this don't happen in Knoxville.



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.

My children.

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 wept.

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.


Tamar said...

Oh honey.

I don't even know what to say. That poor mom.

Dawn~a~Bon said...

I haven't felt safe since Chris and Channon went out on a date and never came home. And then adding to the ugliness and horror is all the hate spewed in the aftermath, like you said, and the victims being turned into props for people with agendas and prejudices. It just compounds the tragedy.

Mrs. Booms said...

This is exactly why I called my daughter again this morning to tell her I love her.

I do it with my hubs and kids all the time. I don't want the "last time" I see them to not be filled with "I love you" and you just never know.

I'm sorry you feel unsafe.

That poor boy and his poor family.

Allie said...

How sad, I'm sorry this happened and I'm sorry it makes so many people question their safety.

Frannie said...


Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh honey...the heart hurtingness of that has me so choked up. This is such a scary world - how do we keep them safe?

Maybe we can't. Maybe loving them and showing them we do is the best we can do.

Patiently waiting said...

Wow, that is just terrible! Thanks for taking the time to remind all of us that children are a gift and you never know when they will be taken away. ((Hugs))

Unknown said...

I catch up on your blog about once a week (lurker..of course) and was particularly touched by today's post. I know I should say something about how I feel for the mother of the victim and your community...and I do, but when I was reading...all I could think was...WOW...Chick is such a phenomenal writer. I am in awe...You have so eloquently expressed exactly how I have felt when tragedies like this have taken someone so accident or senseless crime. Don't lose the world as a fundamentally good place or in your dream to publish the book I know (and everyone lucky enough to have found you knows) that you have in you.

Wenderina said...

When tragedies like this occur in our town, I find them terrifying. When they occur to someone I know, I find them heartbreaking. And sometimes, when tragedies like this occur outside my town and to a stranger, I find them both.

There is a special place in hell reserved for people who carelessly take lives in this way. And no one on earth needs to create hell for them or the community already so devastated.

Our Moments said...


That's so sad. I just can't imagine.

Treasure EVERY moment you have with your loved ones. You never know when it will be your last.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Oh, Lord. I hadn't heard. I'm so sorry. Every time I drop the twins off at their pre-school, I think of the Amish school that was attacked. The twins' school locks its doors. All day. And that makes me so very sad.

Sarcasta-Mom said...

We had a tragedy occur at our daycare two years ago where a little boy drowned. Ever since then, I've always made sure that before I leave my kids for any reason, the last words I say are words of love, no matter how irritated or angry I might be at the moment.

I think Kimberley is right- we can't always keep them safe, and the best thing we can give our kids is the knowladge that we love them everyday, no matter what.

Anonymous said...

I have chills to my toes right now.

Patience said...

Such a sad day. And you are right that we never know when something tragic, something totally unexpected, is going to happen to us or someone close to us.

Cricky said...

squishy's chills have extended to me as well.

As a parent who has lost a child I can tell you first hand, it's not a club you want to join.

I simply hope this serves as a reminder to all parents that they should cherish EVERY.LAST.SECOND.

Kiki said...

I live just outside San Francisco and there is plenty of violence here to go around. My Mom works up the street from where I live at a high school and I worry constantly that there will be a shooting at school. I don't just worry about her being safe, but I worry because I know how sad she gets when these things happen. What kind of world are we living in that we have to worry about these sort of things?

Rachel (Crazy-Is) said...

It is pretty shocking to have that happen in Knoxville. Crime like that is usually reserved for Memphis. I cannot recall a time though, where there was a shooting inside a school. Typically they occur outside the school, but it is equally scary and sad.

It saddens me to no end that my kids are not able to grow up the same as I did. I could go out and ride my bike and be gone all day long and have no worries. Things like this just didn't happen then. I never felt scared at school. Never. I had already graduated from high school when the 1st school shooting happened. It waw pretty scary because the first ones where all near Memphis. Pearl, Mississppi. Paducah, Kentucky. The worst being in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

I will never understand this. Everyone gets teased in school or has a beef with another student. What makes these kids resort to this type of violence?

Anonymous said...

It breaks my heart every time I hear this. Back in Feb when there was a shooting at Univ of Illinois, it was even harder since a very good friend of mine her granddaughter was a freshman there. it was way too close for comfort.

Heather {Desperately Seeking Sanity} said...

I felt this same way about here... and then the Massacre at Virginia Tech happened.. and life?

It just isn't the same.

Captain Steve said...

That's awful, dude. I'm glad your family is safe, but I'm sorry about your town and the poor kid that got shot. There's always a lot of hate after things like that. Good luck sorting through.

SJINCO said...

I'm so sorry this happened in your town. I'm so sorry that you and your children have to worry about this now.

Such a sad state the world is in, something needs to change.

PaintedPromise said...

so very very sad...