And yesterday May 7th was my anniversary, 16 years of marriage. Did we do anything special? Well, I bought flowers for my husband, and our son took us out to dinner with his own money, But that is not really special for us; we try every day to live in the present without the urgency that many are addicted to. I am in love with my state Colorado. It is a beautiful state with crazy weather for me and very kind people. Another day in this state yesterday. I went to pick up my son as I usually do, and while I was parked, I heard over the speakers that they were in safe perimeter, so I moved my car a little closer and asked another mom what was going on. She told me about the unfortunate events, that there was another shooting in my beautiful state and that's why our schools were in lockdown.
When I heard that, I got sad that in that instant there were that were people scared and suffering. But I had to continue with my life, so I ran to a great friend who was already waiting for her son at the door. I told her I had to do my job as a uber driver for kid. So I asked her for the favor to pick up my son and take him with her. I was so grateful to have her there because I completely trust her and could continue with my life in that moment to be responsible for two other teens that were in lockdown too.
I made it to the other school, which was close to us, and waited. I knew about the unfortunate events, so I was on the phone talking to a friend while I was waiting to see at what time the schools would release kids. The police in the school where I was waiting made us go to the door as they released each kid to each caregiver. I drove them and got back to my friend’s home to pick up my son. Meanwhile, my husband was worried and made the decision to walk toward our son’s school in the rain, so he met us at my friend’s house. When I arrived there I did not hug my kid; I was just happy that he was playing. What was he playing? A shooting game. Did it feel weird? Yes, for me, but I continued as usual. I started a conversation with my friend and my husband about what was happening.
When I got home I decided to wait to watch the news. I wanted to prepare myself to be fed by the fear of the community and the constantly repeated information of the news. I chose to watch the news because I wanted to see how my community was feeling. The school where the shooting happened was just a few miles away from us so it is close to home, and when things happen close to home we tend to get more sensitive about it because we know that also could happen to us, and we already know many kids that go there. While watching the news, I chose to keep breathing so I wouldn’t get all anxious about it and so I could be mentally healthy for me and my family.
But I couldn’t stop thinking that I felt a little guilty that I was not in despair as other parents. That I was not hugging my son and telling him how much I love him as the anchor suggested, “Hold tight to your kids, especially tonight.” I felt guilty to think that at that same time probably were other communities in the world also suffering from shootings, rapes and who knows what else. I felt guilty for not being that afraid. I felt guilty because I was different.
And it hit me: as a society, we judge so much that it is scary to come out and say your true feelings sometimes, because people want to tell you how you should feel. Was I a bad mother, a bad friend, a bad citizen? And I realized that our stories had a lot to do with how we deal with stressful situations like yesterday and also the perspective we have in that situation.
I started to remember my childhood, when I went to elementary school, high school and college. Those were the 80’s and 90’s in Lima, Peru. Keep in mind perspectives are different, so you might ask another Peruvian and have a totally different opinion than me. I grew up in a large city where robbery happened quite often, so often that I did not feel safe to walk alone in the street in a city where public transportation for me was a nightmare and men would try to grab the asses of girls. I grew up during the time where terrorism only happened in the Middle East or in a village very far away, until it happened in our backyard.
Car bombs became so common that we would play as kids a kind of game where we pretended cars in the neighborhood had a bomb. When I got older, bets would go around school to see which building got bombed, and our parents would often tell us to be careful and to respect the curfew the government put. I remember one day my mom told me that I should not go out to a specific event because there was a bomb threat; I did not listen and still went. Then my mom called me telling me not to come back home because actually the bomb exploded closer to home and not where it was supposed to be.
So I learned that it did not matter how afraid we were, that it was impossible to guess what could happen. I learned to live that life, and you might be thinking how awful it was, that Peru might be a terrible place. Well guess what: it is a wonderful place, like my home now in Colorado. I know how it feels to hear a bomb. I know how it feels to hear shooting. I know how it feels to have a gun held to my head. And because of these awful things that happened I am a badass mom, and a badass coach. And if these things have not happened to you, you are also a badass mom and a badass human being.
I am terrified of death. I am not a Christian, so I don’t believe that there is a heaven out there. I believe that my heaven and my hell is here, right here, every day. Yesterday was hell, and today is heaven. That situation was for me, but tomorrow everything can change. I chose to live in the present with my family because I don't know if tomorrow will be hell. We might die on our way down to the mountains, like a few people did a few weeks ago. We might die because we think life is over and it is better to end it no. Or we might die in the mall because some idiot thinks it is okay to shoot people there. I have no idea what will be tomorrow or in a few minutes. All I know is that I hope that we become kinder people in spite of this. I hope we talk to our kids and let them know that we love them and how important it is to be safe. I hope we stop judging each other. I hope I never become that parent that lost a kid or that parent of a kid that killed another one.
We are all in the same boat. Violence and crap does not only happen here, it happens all over the world. It is just new for this generation and this state. When I heard people saying it is not fair for our kids to go to school in fear, I thought it was not fair for me either to go to school in fear. Do not take me wrong; I am not saying this is ok. I am just saying that I don't forget those kids in other countries and other schools that go in fear to school and other kids that go in fear to home. That is not fair for them either; we are all equals. And yes, I will feel that nasty feeling in my stomach whenever I hear cops driving by me thinking that there was a shooting in another school, but I won't let my environment dictate how I live and love.