With a siren in the not too far distance, the school bell rang. I thought nothing of it, although the bell seemed to be early. A quick look at my watch confirmed this, but the children were gone by the time I looked up. All of them. With doors swinging shut behind them. Firmly. Only tracks remained in the fresh snow to urge me to get on with the day before it got too sloppy to drive in.
An hour later and I was glued to the radio. I desperately scanned the local twitter feed for news.
"Code Yellow - School is on holding pattern"
and my babies inside
my life! my God.
"40-something year old male, possibly armed, over a dozen police vehicles surrounding the scene. Refusing to communicate."
This scene so close to my babies' school that they are locked in for safety. But what safety did I have from the panic that threatened to overwhelm? Tears, friends and prayer. For several excruciating hours. Walking round, and round, and round again, wearing grooves in the floor. Leaving a trail of fear behind me, only to stumble upon it on my next tour around the kitchen.
"Have a tea for your nerves."
Distractions that didn't work, because I didn't want them to. All I wanted was for it to end. And end now.
And it did. Safely and without harm to anyone, aside from 600 some-odd parent's nerves, plus teachers and their loved ones. Ten hours worth of stand-off. This on Friday the 13th. This after 5 bank robberies in a single day this week, a Hell's Angel biker shot (and 3 others injured), plus several rub 'n tugs torched. This after a full moon that has obviously made my part of the world go a lot too crazy.
Is it Friday yet? Can I call it a day? Can I sign out on life for this week?
My babies lie in their beds sleeping, unruffled by the events of the day. They were curious why I showed up early to sign them out. And why other kids were leaving too. They wondered why I cried all the way home and hugged them fierce once the door was locked. They thought it was a hoot to start the weekend early. Movies, popcorn, pizza and a fire? Sweet!
Sweet; the feel of my life blood tucked under my arms, as we snuggled in our blanket cocoon with blinds drawn to keep out the world.
Breathe. Remember to breathe. Remember that tomorrow is a new day and this one is now done.