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The Worst Phone Call of Your Life

The last couples days have been a bit emotional for me.

Like many of you I have been watching the events unfolding from the mass killings of UCSB students in the community of Isla Vista. There have been quite a few shootings that have taken place the last few years and all have been gut wrenching, every life is precious, but for me this one hit me harder.

I watched the event unfold on Twitter and listened to the chilling and disturbing “retribution” video of the alleged killer but what brought me to tears and a complete breakdown was the interview of a 19 year old UCSB student who helped a victim at the scene of the attack in front of the sorority house. He said when he came up to the survivor of the three girls she was hunched on the ground on the phone with her mother. She had been shot twice and was telling her mom how she loved her and that she didn’t know if she would make it… That wrenched my heart, completely. It affected me because I have been that mom on the other line.

February 5, 2010 was a day I have always dreaded to remember.

I guess from how this current event has affected me I haven’t yet completely dealt with my feelings. I had to be strong for my daughter. At the time my daughter was a 9th grader at Discovery Middle School in Madison, Alabama. I was at work when I got a phone call on my cell from my daughter. I could tell the second I heard her voice that something was wrong. She was calling me from under her desk at school crying hysterically telling me that Todd Brown, a boy in her class, was just shot in the head and another boy Hammad Memon had shot him. She couldn’t stop telling me “he is dead mom, he just shot him.” I won’t go into the full details but it was something that no child should ever have to witness.

It happened during class break so they were on their way to their next class when kids started yelling “He has a gun!”. Being stupid kids, my daughter included, they ran to the halls thinking it was a joke. My daughter came through the doorway to her class into the hall and saw him get shot and drop directly in front of her. It was a brave, quick thinking teacher who grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back into the class room and locked the doors. Thankfully no other children were killed and they were able to apprehend him.

That drive to her school to get her was the longest I have ever experienced and the mass pandaemonium of parents and children crying is not something you could ever describe.

The streets were lined with parents trying to get to their children. Police cars everywhere and crime scene tape. So many children I knew crying in the grass. I finally gave up and parked at a near by church and walked. I didn’t stop panicking until I had her in my arms. I hugged her so hard. I don’t know what I would do with out her. She is my baby.

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I wish I could say that was the end of it but February 12, just one week after this shooting, the day of Todd Brown’s funeral, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville opened fire at a staff meeting and killed 3 professors and wounded 3 others because she didn’t receive tenure. I was still attending school at UAH at the time and one of the professors who was killed was my Biology teacher Maria Davis. It just felt like the world had gone crazy. This second shooting really affected the children from Discovery Middle School. It didn’t feel like you could be safe anywhere.

I will say the school and city did an amazing job responding to the situation. The school went into instant lockdown and police and emergency workers were there within minutes of shots being fired. The school also brought in grief counselors to talk with the children.

My daughter is doing well now but it took a long time for her to completely recover. She still has moments where it affects her. I guess at moments it still affects me too. I just wish we could all just love and respect each other.

My heart goes out to the mother of that girl. To hear your child say “I love you, I don’t know if I will make it.” Oh my god!


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