Wednesday, February 15, 2023

When the Unthinkable Happens


Trigger warning: In this post I will be sharing about what I experienced this week as a parent of a Michigan State student.. 

    If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this picture in my stories.  It is a flag my son received when he was accepted to Michigan State University.  If you followed me from a long time ago you may remember my son Kyle from his kids cooking series Cooking with Kyle.  He is grown up now, and  currently a student at Michigan State. 

    If you have seen the news in the last few days, you should have heard by now that they had a mass shooting on campus on Monday night.  Finding out your child could be in danger while you are hours away is every parents nightmare.  Thankfully, I was texting with my son when the chaos started, so I knew immediately he was in a safe location.  He was at his apartment that was a quarter to half mile from the lecture hall where the first shooting occurred. 

     I did not hear that something was happening from Kyle, but from my mom who lived a few states away. She saw it breaking on the news, and immediately called me in a panic to ask if I knew where Kyle was. She told me that she saw on the news that there was an active shooter situation on campus.  She breathed a huge sigh of relief when I mentioned that I was texting with him, and that he was at his apartment, and not on campus at that time. When I mentioned to Kyle that grandma had just called me about a situation that was happening on campus, he said that he received an email to shelter in place.  He did not really know much about what was going on, since he did not have the news on yet. 

    I moved from Michigan to Ohio last summer, so I had to watch the news from a TV station in Michigan online.  Watching what was happening live was so surreal.  My brain could not process what I was seeing. I recognized buildings and street names that I had been by several times as recently as this past weekend.  The more I saw, the more anxious I became. While I knew my son was safe from what was happening on campus, they had no idea where the shooter was for a few hours.  At that time he could be anywhere.  I also started hearing from friends through text and on Facebook that they were finally in contact with their children.  They were so scared that they did not know their kids or relatives were safe right away.  I have several friends who have children that go to school or teach on campus.  One of my friends has a daughter that teaches at that very hall!  

    I could not go to bed that night, not until I knew that the shooter had be found. It was around midnight when they finally said that the shooter had been found, and that he was no longer alive.  He was found on a road that I frequently take when I am in town. I  stayed up late into the night, and watched several news conferences trying to make sense of a senseless situation.  The man who caused all of this chaos, panic, and grief didn't even have ties to Michigan State.  There was no reason for him to even be there on campus. (at least that we know of at this time)   He just randomly shot at innocent students who were there to get an education. It really could have been anyone. It could have been my son, or my friends' children.   While I know my son is safe physically, how will he deal with this emotionally?  Will he feel safe when he is back on campus?  I know I have been struggling to process  all that has happened, so I can only imagine what the students are going through.

    The Michigan State campus has been stepping up to help the students.  They have canceled classes for the week, and are offering counseling for students and staff in person and online. I am sure many people are going to need to talk to someone.   Since there are no classes for the week, I know many students went home to be with their families. I was just in Lansing last weekend and had the chance to hug my son.  We have talked on the phone every night since. Hopefully, we will continue that for awhile.  

I can't stop thinking of the eight families who had their lives changed forever Monday night. Three of the students have passed, and five others are in critical condition at a local hospital.  I have been praying for those families, and for all of the Michigan State students. This was definitely a traumatic event to go through.  I pray for the parents of students who are now feeling anxious, and struggling to process what might have been like me. 

I know we will get through this.  I know eventually we get back to day to day life.  Until then Spartan Will!  (I am a Buckeye who is a temporary Spartan for my son, every day but game days) 

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