I was almost finished working on a report while on the phone with central office when I got the snap message "there is a random shooting going on right now around the island". The first and only thing I could think of the whole time was that this was unreal. Who goes around shooting people on Saipan? Hundreds of questions ran through my mind as the school staff prepared for the first ever lock down. The scariest words to hear are that there is danger around, but we don't know where and we don't know how close. 824 students and 72 staff need to be secured, but how? The news came in from all directions, but not from the places we rely on. The Commissioner of Education ordered a precautionary lock down and I commend her for that effort in light of the lack of information from any other authority. When I checked my phone, it seemed that everyone on my Facebook page already knew a version of what had happened and there was still no word from authorities. I understand that there were more pressing matters to attend to at the time, but the if gunman were anywhere near, we would have been easy targets standing at our locked gates. It was unreal.
That evening, as the news came in about the victims I thought about our community, still in shock. What happened today? How could it happen here? Are we safe? Families are in mourning, how painful to lose those you love by a tragedy like this? Why children? Life goes on for most of us, how unfair that it ended so violently for them? An island is in mourning and I sit here not wanting to make sense out of what happened because my heart doesn't want to understand what could make someone do such a horrible thing. Have you ever not wanted to forgive? And yet I know, that it was while we were yet sinners...
Yesterday it seemed everyone was advocating prayer without shame or fear. Odd. Odd but understandable. In our greatest times of crisis and fear, who is else is there to turn to but God, whether or not you believed two seconds ago. I wonder if it pains Him, like a parent who is only needed in times of distress? I believe it doesn't matter. What mattered was the supplication.
It seems unreal to do anything today. I feel dizzying sense of gratitude and guilt waking up to a "normal" life, going to work, opening the door to see my children still asleep while others today are still trying to come to grips. I want to tell the people pitching tents and erecting stages to stop. Postpone, cancel, fore-go it...our community is in pain. I want to sit and make a bucket list because you just never know. I write because I haven't written regularly and I remember how good it made me feel. I wonder if we'll start to do things we enjoy more because we have been reminded that we aren't immune to danger or because we realize that there is so much to be thankful for.