Enough is enough
“There’s a shooter on campus, I’m in the music building I’m ok”
This was the first text that my youngest son sent last Monday night, as a mass shooter was murdering three people and shooting down five more on the Michigan State University campus, only a couple of blocks from where he was rehearsing. A parent’s worst nightmare.
He and his fellow jazz musicians had barricaded themselves in a piano lab in the music building, not far from Berkey Hall and the Union where victims were bleeding and dying. In addition to locking the door, they shoved pianos and front of it and were arming themselves with music stands and whatever else they could get their hands on.
He kept in touch the entire time. Out of fear, I foolishly and impulsively tried calling him the minute I saw his first text. It went straight to voicemail and he texted again, saying that he wasn’t going to take a call at the moment. Of course he wasn’t. He was being smart, following one of the cardinal rules of school lockdown drills.
Be quiet. Turn your ringer off. Don’t call anyone.
Run. Hide. Fight.
Things he had learned since he had started kindergarten, like all of Gen Z.
It was another four hours before the police announced that the shooter (who I will not name here) had taken his own life a few miles away from campus and the lockdown was over. Shortly after, around 1:00 AM, I was able to call my son and hear his voice. He was calm, but shaken, rambling in same the way that I do when I’m excited or upset. He explained what had happened in the last few hours and that he and others were going to a friend’s parents’ home to eat and spend the night. He would probably want to come home the next day, of course.
I went to work the next day with very little sleep and a lot of big emotions. I didn’t know what else to do.
Rage. Oh, the rage that this was happening. Again.
I hoped he would be sleeping, that he would be able to escape this horror for a few hours at least. I texted him early on, between my classes, telling him that I would come get him when he was…