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Let Them Light The Darkness

The evening sky was a deep yet vibrant purple streaked with bright orange. Proof that even cloudy skies could be beautiful with just a little light. If only the world worked that way, she thought. If only a little light could brighten up all the darkest of dark that seemed to be hiding around every corner these days.

A chill runs through her body from the brisk spring air coming in through the slightly open window. She tries to breathe away the thoughts and the fear running laps in her mind and around her heart. Today's staff meeting had been intense. Was it the armed intruder drills themselves or the fact that what used to feel like practice for something that was an anomaly was now practice for something that could happen tomorrow.

"Today I will give you three drill scenarios, but this time I will add in other circumstances. I want you to think what you would do next. You've moved from one area to another, now what? What do you do if the shooter is coming from this way or that way? How can you create space and time between you and the shooter?"

Just hours before she had sat in the the teacher's room wondering if everyone else was suddenly sweaty, were they also holding back tears? Were they also putting on a brave face? Had they really just talked about how some kids had been saved in the last school shooting because the teachers had dropped them from the second floor window. That sentence right there caused the lump in her throat to grow and a churning in her stomach. The idea that being dropped from a window, was seriously a safer option than being in an elementary school was one she just couldn't wrap her head around.

She pictured her son, only 4, just a baby in her eyes. She didn't want to picture it, but the vision came before she could stop it. The image of her son's face, full of fear; no not fear, terror as he looks up at his teacher while she drops him from a window. He is only in preschool, but as a teacher, she knows the risks are real and while she prays every night that this never happens to them, she can't help but ask him on the way home from school a question she has been avoiding.

"Hey love, what would you do if a bad man came in to your school?"

"I would push him mommy." he says seriously, firmly, his mood suddenly changing.

She feels it. She feels it in the space of the car. It's like that one question just took a piece of his childhood from him. That one question snatches some of the joy his teacher has created about coming to school. It creates a synapse in his brain where he now wonders if a bad man will come and why a bad man would come. Deep breathes fill her lungs as she thinks, wow this is way more than the stranger danger conversations her parents had with her as a child.

She takes a second before responding. "Awe, sweet boy, while I know you just want to help, the best way to be a big helper is to stop and listen to Mrs. P." They sit in silence for a moment. "Mrs. P will tell you exactly what to do. You just need to stop, look, and listen. Just like in a fire drill."

"We have fire drills. We have a place where we meet when we have a fire drill!" He exclaims. He tells her how they walk in a line and head to the flag pole where they sing songs.

She can tell he feels proud of this knowledge so she builds off it.

"Wow! you are such a good listener to remember all that. So if a bad person ever comes into the school, you just listen to Mrs. P like you do during fire drills. I can tell you are a good listener. I know you will do good listening. Okay?"

"Okay." He says staring out the car window.

Her thoughts are suddenly brought back to the sunset and the safety of her home as she hears his voice.

"What are you looking at mommy?" he asks excitedly as he leans his head and shoulder into her. He's most likely hoping she says there is a deer in the yard.

"Oh I was just looking at the sun and thinking."

"Me too!" he says in such a way that she truly believes him.

"Oh ya! What are you thinking about?" She asks hoping it's not the conversation they had earlier.

"T-Rex's..." she hears him say, but the rest of his sweet words fade out.

Staring at the sunset, she knows that this small boy with his squishy cheeks is the light that shines in the dark. She focuses on his face for a moment more, that perfectly innocent face. Leaning down and kissing the top of his head she holds back tears. She will do everything in her power, every day he is alive to ensure that world gets to experience his light. That him and his friends have their moment to shine their light on a world that so desperately needs it.

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