Well, Friends, I had some things I wanted to share today, and will next week, but let me tell you I have just passed through an awful state of parental shock: At approximately 1 pm EST today, shots were fired in one baggage claim area at Ft. Lauderdale’s airport. I had just stepped out of the shower in my Dad’s Mississippi cabin where I’m staying for a few weeks, when he said, “Dawn, come look at this.” He didn’t know what I knew as soon as I saw the words Ft. Lauderdale run along the bottom of the TV screen: that Sam and his swim team were bound for Florida this week for spring training. I couldn’t remember the dates, so I searched my phone for his itinerary, and as my dad stood before his TV, I read, Philly to Ft. Lauderdale. Jan 6. Arrival: 2:30 pm.
Yes, I knew there was no chance his flight would be 90 minutes early. I knew immediately, if anything, he was sitting on a plane on the tarmac, but that he and his team had not made it into the terminal.
But I didn’t know. Until I did, and during that in between time, I yelled a lot of profanities; I shook uncontrollably; I kind of yelped at my dad, WTF? over and over and over, and texted and called Sam’s father repeatedly. I have no internet in the cabin, and I felt totally in the dark. Dad and I sat and watched, me still wrapped in a towel, as one man with a cell connection narrated events to the newscaster. It seemed, as we sat there watching, another shooting was beginning in another area. (Which turned out false.) We watched images of Southwest planes, docked. (Sam’s airline). We watched as hundreds of people, walked, ran, arms in the air, all over that tarmac like ants. I sat close up to the screen to look at faces. I saw young people in matching sweats, young men in khakis and ties running, holding cell phones. Athletic teams. I shook. I sweated. I clutched my phone, but I did not cry. I did not get sick. I knew he was OK.
And he was. Is. He may still be sitting on his plane at West Palm Beach where it had been diverted. (They are hoping to be able to fly into Ft. Lauderdale where all their vans and gear await them.) We talked as he sat there. He sounded good. Alive. Real. Not scared. Not panicky. Not particularly verbose. He said a couple times, “I know.”
I think he meant, yeah, there are no words. Yeah, this is unbelievable. Yeah, it’s possible I just missed being shot, killed, by mere minutes. I know.
Words are my business. And I don’t have any. I had none as we were on the line together. Finally, I told him I love him. And by that I mean all the unspeakable things: I am glad you were not killed today, Sam. I am so sorry you are 20 years old and this is the world you live in. Where someone can pack a weapon and get it through security, draw it after the flight and begin to shoot people in the head. I am so sorry that this is not a freak occurrence but will happen again and again in your lifetime. I can’t be the mom who hysterically asks, Really? Is this the world we live in now? I am sorry you don’t get to ask it either. And that you–you beautiful, hopeful, most alive being–must exist alongside this, too. That this is your normal. It is the world. No more room for asking if. Ask how. How I will live and love in it.
Sunday: New Year and Still Walking
Tuesday: From the Research: Ancient Voices
Stay tuned for posts next week about being here in the Delta with my dad and ongoing research. And be well.