Seth could not sleep last night.
When he re-entered school this year after being homeschooled for two, the biggest stress for him was not the academic work, not the social aspects of making new friends, but the fire and lock down drills. Just the drills.
We addressed his fears with the school staff. We’ve taken some measures to help him through. His teacher has a few tricks up her sleeve to help in the moment. He’s even seen a counselor who gave him calming techniques to use during drills, such was his anxiety. He was starting to handle them much better.
Then Friday happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.
So it was after 10:00 last night and he was still not asleep. I came in and laid down with him and ran my fingers through his hair.
“What if a lock-down happens and I’m in the bathroom and I’m locked out of my class?” Visions of being on his own in the hall with a gunman on the loose would not leave his mind.
I tried explaining that his chances of being harmed by an intruder at school were very very slim. “Seth, we have a better chance of winning the lottery,” I said. “Think of all the millions of school children in our country, who were not harmed on Friday. (I know that’s not really true, we were all harmed).
The numbers are too big. He can’t fathom what I am telling him.
So I tried a different tactic. “If that did happen, if a true lock-down happened and you weren’t in your class, you could hide under the stairs. Or you could run through the exit just past the stairwell. Don’t wait for a teacher’s permission. If you have an out, you take it. You go. You have inner guidance. You would know what to do.”
“But what if the gunman is in the stair well?”
Breathe, mama. I check in with my heart and ask for words.
“Seth. I believe we all choose when to come into this life, and when to exit. I believe those very special children, those brave teachers, on a soul level, came to change the world. I believe if it is your time to go, you will go, and no heroic measures will save you, and if it is not your time to go, no human act can change that. No one is more powerful than God.”
He hugged me.
“Because that’s what we’re talking about here, right? Fear of death.”
He nodded, “And fear of getting shot.”
I continued rubbing his hair, and we talked about the body’s adrenaline and the natural anesthesia that happens when we are in crises, and how, often times, people don’t even feel pain until hours after a traumatic event. Those children probably felt no pain. We talked about how when I hit a deer with my car, there was no time to feel fear. How time slowed down and it was all surreal. How our amazing bodies have ways to protect us from trauma. Physically and emotionally.
We talked about how we’re all going to die. Every one of us. Some people live long lives. Some people live short lives. All lives are meaningful. All of them perfect for what the soul wanted to accomplish. I believe this.
“But if I died, I’d never see you again,” he blinked his eyes hard, fighting back tears.
We talked about a guy I know, whose teenage son died. This man claimed he felt so close to his son now. Where there was friction between them, only love remained. He talked with his son all the time. He felt him, ever near.
That’s the thing about death, isn’t it? We don’t know, none of us really know. But truly, in my heart, I believe those children and those grown ups who were killed Friday, will never be far from their loved ones. Ever near. Yes.
We talked about love, and how nothing can take it away. Not even death. He is in his dad and his sister and me. We are in him. He is loved. God loves him. Love does not die.
Love is his only true safety.
This morning, our brave boy got out of the car, and hauled his backpack over his shoulder. He looked back at his sister and me in the car, and waved. Then did it again. And again. All the way down the long sidewalk and into the building, to school.