This week has been….well, I’m not sure how to describe it. I’ll stick to summary of the events.
Tuesday–busy, but basically life as usual
Wednesday–busy and here’s where everything changed
I was going all day. With a field trip scheduled for Thursday and my niece’s graduation coming up this weekend, I had lots of things on my schedule for Wednesday evening. God had different plans.
I was practicing my piano for graduation stuff when my roommate (lets call her Jan) came out of her room in tears. She had gotten a call from one of her sister’s neighbors (who also “happens” to go to the same church as my roommate and I and who also “happens” to send her kids to the school where my roommate and I both teach.) She said there were several police cars in front of Jan’s sister’s house, and she wanted make sure that Jan knew. Jan called her sister’s number several times trying to figure out what was going on. I said, “Give me a minute to change out of my sweats, I’ll ride over with you. ” I changed and came out of my room to grab keys and go. Two seconds later, the phone rang again. This time, I watched as Jan started sobbing and fell into a chair. When she hung up, I asked what happened. She said that was her mom calling to tell her that her sister’s husband had come home in a rage (they’d been having problems for a little while) and shot her sister. The police wouldn’t tell the family specifically how many times she had been shot or whether or not she was even alive. I said, “Let’s go. I’ll drive, and you can give instructions in the car.”
Jan cried and tried to call several people on the drive over. We arrived to a surreal scene. There were several police in front of the house, many people watching along the street, and crime scene tape around the house. Jan saw her parents, who are also my landlords, and they came over to her. Jan’s dad explained to me that they knew she had been shot more than once because Jan’s mom had been there when it happened, so he wasn’t very optimistic. The next few hours were very tense. I set myself to calling people from school and church to tell them to start praying. People were calling me as they heard things on the news to make sure that Jan and I were OK and that we were in a safe location. The police took Jan, her parents, and her 7-year-old nephew who saw the shooting to the police station for questioning. I hung around for a little while with the neighbor who had made the original call. We prayed together and cleaned up Jan’s 2-year-old nephew who was covered in blood. The police wanted his dirty clothes for evidence. We heard little news after this After a little while, I was ready to head home, but since we still didn’t know where the shooter was, I decided (with police encouragement) that I would spend the night at my parents’ house.
The night dragged on with little news. Finally, I decided to try to get some sleep. I tried for a little while, and then the phone rang. Jan told me that her sister had not made it. They had airlifted her to another hospital, but after they had worked on her for a little while, she died. Jan and her parents and nephew had been at the police station for a few hours. They were wrapping up and getting ready to leave when they got the call.
I didn’t get much sleep that night. First, I spent a few minutes calling my administrator and a few other people from church who had asked me to call if I got any more definite news. After the first few calls, people started telling me that they had heard on the news, so I went to bed. I spent the night thinking of the family and praying for their comfort. I also debated for a while about what I should do for Thursday. I was scheduled to chaperone a sixth grade day trip. The bus was was set to leave at 8 am and return at 11pm, but I struggled with whether I should stay behind with my friend. I finally decided to go ahead with the trip. The most I could do by staying was pray and give hugs. The praying could happen on the trip, and it sound like between our church and Jan’s parents church the hugs would be covered.
Thursday–long, somber, and surreal, mixed with fun activities and fun students
When I arrived at school for the trip, police were guarding the school. We piled on the bus and waited for everyone else to arrive. Before we left the administrator came out to pray with the students for a safe trip. He spent a few minutes telling the students that Jan’s sister who is also the parent of one of the first grade students had been shot and killed. We went for the day to the Chicago area. Our first stop, Medieval Times, just didn’t have the same appeal this time. From there, we went to the aquarium. That really was a nice break. While I was there, I got several calls. A man from church was going to visit Jan, but he wanted to check and see if that was a good idea. I told him he should definitely go. My dad and all my siblings were calling to make sure I was OK. I reassured them that I was fine–sad and concerned for my friend and my students back at school. People from my niece’s school called to make sure I was still OK with playing the piano for the graduation, and I had several more messages telling me that people were praying.
We went to the top of the John Hancock building, and then we shopped for a while before going home. On the road home, I talked with Jan for a while. She told me that the shooter’s brother-in-law had finally called. The shooter called them after the shooting and told them what happened, and then he fled. They didn’t have a clue where he went. They were stunned and shocked by it all, and the police had stormed their house looking for the shooter, so they were scared. The lady is also expecting to give birth any day now. She spent most of the day yesterday at the hospital with stress-related complications. She also said that tips had been coming in all day about the shooter’s location, but nothing was definite. The trend just seemed to be moving south.
A police officer was waiting with the parents in the parking lot when we got back to the school after our trip. Jan had asked me to call her so that I could get some things ready for her sub. I was in her classroom talking to her when the police officer and the sixth grade teacher peaked into the room. I guess I scared them. They saw my car in the parking lot after everyone else was gone, and they weren’t sure where I had gone. After talking to the police officer about the safety of going home, I decided I should probably stay one more night with my parents.
So I went back to my place and got clothes. Then, I headed over to my parents house. I went to bed right away, and I woke up thanking God. He allowed me restful sleep, and I know that it was in answer to prayers of my friends. I also spoke with Jan who said that God graciously allowed restful sleep for her and her family last night. I’m very thankful that Friday is a relatively easy day for me. I scrapped all my plans for classes. Since I had the first grade class of Jan’s nephew, I decided a video would be the best option. I sure don’t have the physical or emotional energy to teach a regular lesson.
Tonight, I have a rehearsal for graduation. Tomorrow afternoon is the graduation and graduation party. Sunday, I’m planning to get together with two friends from high school. I’m really looking forward to seeing them and having a brief diversion. Also, these are two friends I haven’t seen in ages, so I can’t wait to see them and catch up. I know I have at least a couple prayer warriors who read my blog, so I’m going to end with a few prayer requests and praises.
First, the prayer requests:
- Pray for comfort and peace for the family
- Pray that the authorities will be able to get the shooter soon
- Pray for the shooter’s brother and sister-in-law as they deal with all of their struggles
- Pray that all of them would reach out to Jesus Christ
- Pray for Jan’s mom and two little nephews who saw their daughter/mom get shot
- Pray that I can be serving them however God wants
- Pray that they will continue to get restful sleep
And here is my list of praises:
- The victim’s neighbors love Jesus and wrapped the arms of Christ around that family when they needed it most.
- Many, many people are helping the family with meals, paper products, watching kids, and most importantly, love and prayers.
- God will use this for His glory.
- The family is reflecting Jesus love in their time of trial.
- I was there to drive Jan when she just couldn’t do it herself.
- Custody of the two little boys has been granted to their grandparents.
- Everyone got restful sleep last night.
Well, if you have read this far, then I know you care enough to pray. Thank you for that, and thank you for taking time to read. It really has been a little therapeutic for me to type it all out. People keep telling me that God will show His blessings through this. My answer is, “He already has.”