Praying for Home
They told me to stop thinking about it, but I can't. It's my home.
Five months ago, while I was packing my bags and saying my goodbyes, I told everyone “See you in 10 months!” or “See you this summer!” Not once did it cross my mind that I might never see this people again. I thought I knew I was coming back, I thought it was sure everyone would still be there. Today, all that changed.
This morning I raced out of our apartment building at 6:40 sharp, I met Kate and we walked to the Rabat American School to take our SAT’s. My biggest concern was if I had brought the right kind of pencil, not the safety of everyone back home. The SAT went by fine and I congratulated myself with some Burger King, (Yes mom, Burger King), bought Frozen, and headed home. I watched about half the film with my host brother, then went out once again on a walk.
Nothing prepared me for what I would find when I got back. I opened my computer, smiling only to see a new message from Dylan saying , “there was a shooting at the mall.”
My heart stopped. He couldn’t have meant the Mall in Columbia, he couldn’t have meant my hometown. I opened twitter to find the event trending nationally, saw my best friends tweeting about helicopters above their houses or just leaving the mall on time. It couldn’t be true. I opened CNN only to find footage of a SWAT team running through the parking lot. No, it wasn’t real.
How do I sum this up? How can I explain how it feels to see my hometown on nation news. How can I explain to realize how short and fragile life is, yet be so far away from my family.
I love my host family, I love my roommate, but how could I explain to them how it felt? All I wanted was to be with my family. I don’t know how many days I have left in my life and neither do they.
My host brother pulled at me, wanting to finish Frozen. I just wanted to make sure everyone was safe. Slowly messages began to come in; everyone was safe. But who were the victims? Where was my sister? I pulled out my laptop and put in the movie, maybe it would be good to get my mind off of it, but I couldn’t, I can’t. I talk about this all in the past tense, but it’s not. It’s just easier to think of it that way. Every time I stopped the movie to respond to a message or check for more information, my host brother would whine and get annoyed. At one point, I turned at said, “Do you not understand that three people just DIED in my hometown?” Thank the Lord he doesn’t speak English. They told me not to worry, but how can I not worry?
This morning while getting dress I put on my friend Nicole’s hoodie that she had given me before leaving, she said that every time I wear it, it’ll be like she is with me. I put on the fuzzy socks my Grandma sent me, the jeans my mom sent, the purple shirt that my friends had given me before I left. I thought I put it so they’d be with me on the SAT, but little did I know that I would need them to be with me for more than that.
I can’t collect my thoughts right now. All I know is that I want to be with my family, I need to be with them. I can’t stand being so far away. My host family keeps telling me not to think about it, but I have to; it’s my home.
Things like this have happened before on even larger scales, yet this one hit home. The others were sad, and I felt for the people who were lost, but it was far away, didn’t really affect me. I never would’ve thought that something like this would happen in Columbia. Columbia. Good old suburbia where the tarps on swing sets had to be a certain color and 100 miles of path wove through forests and back onto perfectly manicured lawn. Yet it did. Three people died. It wasn’t something small. It wasn’t far away. It was right there, but this time I was the one far away.
What if it had been my mom or my sister there in that mall? Thank the Lord it wasn’t, but that would’ve been my last goodbye 5 months ago. I am so so so so grateful that my family is safe, but there are those who are not and I pray for Columbia. I pray for my hometown. Lord help Columbia.