Those have to be the two scariest words a parent could ever read when it comes to their kiddos at school. Those two words are the ones my eyes focused on in the email I got at 12:55 this afternoon from Lucas’ school. His school was “on lockdown.” The cops were there, an increased presence, they said. For more information they told us to come to a staging area. My throat went dry, my stomach flipped and my heart nearly beat out of my chest as I read those words over and over and over again.
Stan and I were running errands together. We stopped at the dry cleaner and Stan jumped out to pick up his shirts. Since I was alone and a little bored, I decided to check my email. That’s when I saw the message from the county spokesman. And then the texts came in from my friends. “Have you heard from Lucas?” “How is Lucas?” “Is Lucas OK?” Oh shit! If my friends knew about it this had to be all over the news. Their kids weren’t students at Lucas’ school. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!! My heart raced faster as those words looped through my head. All alone in the car, I kept grabbing the handle of the car wanting jump out and run into the dry cleaners, grab Stan to tell him we had to race as fast as we could to the staging area. But then I thought I’d look like a deranged, crazy person as I pictured myself running in shouting in a panicky voice that we had to go NOW! Instead, I decided to gather my wits and will him to get back to the car NOW!
As soon as Stan opened the door I said, “We have to to go to Cross Ridge NOW!” The hysteria was beginning to bubble in my chest as scenes of other schools’ tragedies played through my head. I could see, in my head, streams of kids running from their high school. I could picture Lucas being led to safety by police squads. I could picture carnage and crying parents. I could picture every single scene I’d ever seen on TV, but this time it involved my kid and the kids of my friends. This time it was our school and our kids. I read Stan the email as he threw the car in reverse and headed toward the staging area where police waited to give us news about our kids.
As we drove I tapped out this frantic text to Lucas.
Me: Are you ok?!?!?! Please answer me. I don’t care if you get your phone taken away.
It seemed like it took forever for Lucas to answer as Stan flew through the streets filled with people going through their daily lives without a care or concern about what was happening at our high school. I willed them to move almost as much as I willed Lucas to respond. Finally…
Lucas: Yes I’m fine. Don’t worry. The police are leaving now.
Lucas: Sorry I didn’t answer I had no 3G
Lucas answered. He was fine. He was safe. If he was fine and safe the whole school must have been fine and safe too. I finally exhaled the breath I had been holding since I read the email. This is the text chain Lucas and I exchanged.
Me: Oh thank God!!!!!
Me: What happened??
Lucas: I will tell you later.
Me: Ok. Stay safe and I LOVE YOU!!!!
Lucas: I love you too, and don’t worry I’m fine
Lucas: Swat guy just came in the room with an M-16 checking on us and the kid is in custody.
Me: Oh thank God!!!! I’ve never been more scared in my whole life!!
Lucas: We are all fine. There is nothing to worry about. I love you
Lucas: The kid wasn’t on campus but he was close!
Me: How did they find out about him?
Lucas: All I know is it was a male. The police probably know more.
Me: According to the news reports he was disturbed mentally. Do you know who it was?
Lucas: I know a lot of people that are disturbed mentally but I couldn’t narrow it down.
God love Lucas and his levity!
Me: You just totally cracked me up!!
About an hour later this is the text I got from Lucas….
Lucas: You should definitely pick me up. Lockdown is over.
In between Lucas’ last text and the text asking me to pick him up, I texted Zach and asked him if he heard about Lucas’ school. The boys are at two different area high schools. I figured the kids at Zach’s school had heard about Lucas’ school but I didn’t know for sure.
Me: Did you hear about Lucas’ school.
Zach: Yes. I’m texting him.
The big brother. My heart swelled.
Me: Good! I love you!!
The drama seemed to be over but I couldn’t get the scenes out of my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about Lucas’ request to pick him up. I remembered so many years ago when 9-11 happened and I wanted to pick up Zach from kindergarten. Stan’s advice was to just leave him at school. He said he’d be fine. I wanted Zach by me then almost as much as I wanted Lucas by me now. I needed to go get him. The instructional day was shot to shit as soon as the lockdown started. I called the school to make sure I could get him and was given the green light. I put my car in drive and headed it toward Lucas.
This is what I saw as I pulled up to school…