Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day Massacre Hits Too Close To Home.

Valentine's Day Massacre Hits Too Close To Home.
Current mood: sad
Category: Life

I remember both my mom and I crying buckets the first day she left me at Knox in the Fall of 1990. That was my first venture away from home, and while she had been through the same separation anxiety four years earlier when she dropped my brother, Steve, off at Northern Illinois University, it's never an easy or smooth or happy day, resigning your child to being on his/her own for the first time.

And I can completely see myself turning into a pile of blubbering tears should I ever drop Lucas off at an institution of higher learning someday. Assuming he'll choose to go to college, of course. And who knows what worries or paranoia parents my age will have once our children enter college. Almost guaranteed, my mom wasn't worried about either Steve or I being randomly shot at college, certainly not in the 80's or 90's.

College is supposed to be a young person's entry into self-discovery, entry into adulthood and assuming self-responsibility, in addition to procuring some education that may or may not ultimately assist them in attaining a decent paying job at some juncture. It's not supposed to be a place where your parents plunk you after high school graduation, and then regret that the monthly care package didn't also include a bullet-proof vest and the emergency contact number of the local grief counselors because another local head case lost control of all reasoning and busted caps in innocent academics.

"What's this world coming to?" blogs are sort of cliche, but Good Lord, what's this world coming to?

Craig emailed me the link to the story about yesterday's shooting at Northern Illinois University in De Kalb, IL, about half and hour after the shootings commenced on campus. Immediately, I blew a call into my brother in De Kalb. After his graduation from college, he stayed in De Kalb to work at NIU, where he is a shopkeeper for one of the large dorm's food service departments. He'd had a child with and then married my sister-in-law, and my nephew is now 15 and a freshman at De Kalb High School. So Steve and his family have lived in De Kalb, and been closely tied to NIU, for about 20 years.

My sister-in-law was frazzled answering the phone this afternoon, and she didn't know any more about the shootings than any of the rest of the public did at the time, and their phone was ringing off the hook. I understood and kept my communication with her brief, but I needed assurance that my brother wasn't somehow randomly involved as a victim of these random shootings. Fortunately, Steve was home from work before this chaos began, so we were all very relieved.

Every time I check the news feed, reports indicate that more students were injured or had died, or they update exactly how many shots each victim endured, and the news continues to grow progressively more grim. The campus is on lockdown, with classes cancelled for today, though I'm not sure if my brother has to report for work, because, after all, the tens of thousands of students living on campus still need to be fed.

Horrible enough that parents have to worry about the safety of their children whilst at college. Horrible, too, however, that henceforth, I'll worry about my brother's safety while he's working his benign, normal daily job at a large, fractured, devastated Illinois university.

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