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.

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15 Responses to Safety

  1. Niksmom says:

    Sending you all love. Seth is so amazing. BOTH your kids are, but I’m especially in awe of his bravery of spirit today. xo

  2. Meg says:

    Love does not die.

    I am so completely with you on the way you handle this with your kids. They are smart and they know when we are not being honest with them. There is no way to get around it: we are all going to die some day and we do not really know when that day will be. Believing that we have purpose and that we will remain connected to our beloveds is the only way to keep going and to keep from hiding in the corner under heavy furniture.

    I hope his day and his week are uneventful and that he has time to settle back into “normal”.

  3. naomi says:

    “Love is his only true safety.” Good words, Mama. xo

  4. shannon says:

    no one is more powerful than God.
    amen and amen

  5. kario says:

    I was listening to NPR this morning and Shankar Vedanthum was talking about the distinction between fear and dread. He said that we fear things like cancer or plane crashes – things we understand the mechanics of and feel some control over and can accurately assess the risk for. We feel dread about things like what happened on Friday because they are so seemingly random and we can’t control them. What is interesting is that we assume the risk for those things we fear quite naturally, but we overestimate the likelihood of the things we dread happening precisely because of our lack of control.

    I love that you acknowledged Seth’s dread and talked him through the lack of control to a place of love and peace. You are a wonder!

  6. Chris V. says:

    Brave brave boy…. beautiful Mom… you do have just the right words..

  7. I am going to try my best to repeat these things to my own sons — thank you for articulating them so simply and beautifully.

  8. Kristi says:

    You handled that perfect…your a good mom!

  9. Carrie Link says:

    Gorgeous post. YAMH.

  10. Kim G. says:

    Praying those truths lodge deep in his heart and soul. YOU are an awesome mom!

  11. mom says:


  12. Brenda Riesen says:

    Your insight is amazing. Your children are lucky to have you!!!

  13. Tanya Savko says:

    Beautiful and brilliant. You are amazing as a mother and as a person. I love you.

  14. Aw Tanya, thank you. Back atcha!

    Thank you everyone for the sweet comments.

  15. Nina says:

    Oh my goodness- I have no idea how I’d handled those questions. You did a beautiful job and it was a good model for all of us to use. Wow–hard stuff. 🙁

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