I don’t even know where to start.
The day started off on the wrong foot. My husband’s alarm blared on at 4:30 a.m. and, even though I thought I reset it for my normal 6:30 a.m. wake-up, I either didn’t or slept right through it. I woke up way late, rushed to get ready, and arrived at work harried and tired. That, I soon found out, was only the beginning.
Nothing like getting a text from your daughter away at college saying there’s been a shooting on campus and that she is in lock-down in her lecture hall to wake you up. All students had been told to seek immediate shelter in place. Soon after I get a text from my girlfriends in Oklahoma who also have kids at OU, the first one being “check your kids, shots fired on campus.” I was suddenly totally awake and went to find fellow teacher Janet, whose daughter also goes to OU. While doing so, my Assistant Director Chris tracked me down in the hallway saying Kristen was on her office phone. OMG. Kristen would never call the main office unless it was…an emergency.
I talked to her and she promised they were all safe and secure. She sounded so mature and so hushed-like. I expected her to be a little put off by the whole ordeal because she is always “so busy” with her internship job and school, but instead she was all business. This, made me nervous. This, was serious business.
In the meantime, I had a class of 10 little three-year-olds to take care of. How do you talk about a shooting with your colleagues in front of innocent kids and how do you keep from having a worried look on your face or worse, start crying? Thankfully, my class was getting ready to tour our church for their weekly Worship class and my trusted co-worker Ana took over. In my mind it all seemed crazy, lining them up and walking them out of the class while trying to keep my emotions under control, but Ana quickly had all of them under control as I sent and received texts back and forth to Kristen, Smitty, and my Oklahoma friends. I felt horrible and guilty texting in church, but my daughter was in lockdown! Bless me Father for I have sinned…but please keep my daughter and all of OU safe!
I remember being somewhat comforted by that fact that I was in the church though, and I paused to pray for the situation. I was feeling somewhat in the “everything is going to be okay mode” when I received a text from Kristen saying “cops are coming into the building I’m in, guns drawn.” I showed it to Ana and broke down. Tears literally and uncontrollably began pouring and I had to sit down. I remember Ana giving me a big hug and telling me to leave, that she had the kids. My eyes well up just thinking of the fright that overtook my body.
Hours later it was reported the whole thing was a false alarm. A false alarm that had an entire campus terrified. Some reports suggest those who reported the incident may have actually heard something at a nearby campus construction site. Still, the building in question remained closed and Kristen was never able to make it back to her parked car due to active police barricades. As Ana so prolifically said, isn’t it sad that now whenever someone hears a “bang, bang, bang,” it’s thought to be gunshots? How sad is that?
In the end, I learned a lot during those frantic hours, including:
- OU President David Boren and the entire OU community are well-prepared for an actual emergency. This is very comforting.
- The place that proved my best source of information was Twitter. Yep, not Googling anything, not Facebook, not television, but Twitter. On it I could read the many tweets OU students and administration sent out…constantly.
- I am so grateful for my cell phone, on which I was able to call Kristen, text her, read Facebook posts, Google Oklahoma City TV station websites, and read all those informative tweets. Amazing. Not a television or radio was in sight and yet I was up-to-the-minute caught up on what was taking place.
- OU, a medium-sized university in a small town, is a true family. Everyone from the president to my friends and daughter to current OU football players and those in the NFL sent messages and tweets, many asking for prayers and for everyone’s safety. No one was too important. No one was at all flippant.
- I work with amazing and caring women. I already knew this, but a day like today just reminded me of it. In a moment’s notice, Ana took over, Chris tracked me down, our director Cindy said she’d check the TV for news, and so many others hugged me and stepped up to help in whatever way they could. I am one grateful preschool teacher.
How grateful I was to get Kristen’s call that she was back home, in bed, and doing homework. And, although the “all clear” was sounded and campus activities were to continue as normal, Kristen confessed she was not going anywhere near campus. I was okay with her missing class this afternoon. Now if only I could give her a hug.