Chelle Summer

The Rattle

Michelle Rusk

At 2:00 am on Valentine’s Day morning, my shoulder popped out– a subflexation, meaning a partial dislocation. I woke up Greg to help ease it back where it needed to be, wished him a happy Valentine’s Day, and we both went back to sleep.

It had been a while since I’d had a day where I could say that while I had a lot I wanted to accomplish that day, but when I got up at 4:30 am, I was ready to take on Thursday and my list.

However, just after 7:00 am, my day was thrown out the window when Greg texted me to tell me that they had been evacuated from the high school where he teaches for an– at that point– unknown reason. Turns out there had been gunfire just a floor below and down the hall from him. No one was hurt, half the students hadn’t even arrived at school yet because the busses were still on their way to the school, the shooter (and the gun) was caught, and one would think life would go on as it was.

But it doesn’t.

I know this feeling well– of believing I have this smooth day ahead only to have it interrupted by a life-changing phone call– or the presence of the priest at a classroom door in college. I know how quickly life can change and it’s a conversation I’ve had with Greg many times, knowing full well that this day would come that there would be a shooting at his school. Sadly, it’s reality in this times that we live in and we’ve been lucky here in Albuquerque and the surrounding area to have not had this happen before.

We are lucky no one was hurt, I am grateful for that. But what people don’t realize is that in the back of my mind, it’s hard not to picture the worst. That worst is being the one left behind to pick up the pieces. For the rest of the day and into Friday morning I felt rattled. I didn’t feel like myself, feeling depressed.

An estate sale and a swim at the gym pool in the warm sunshine brought my spirit back. Still, it lingers – as it always will– in the back of my mind. If there is one thing I learned from the events of Thursday, it’s that you don’t truly understand what it’s like to be faced with this until it hits close to home, meaning it affects your world in a close and personal way.

Life didn’t stop because of this– nor will it. We had houseguests arriving that night for the Mt. Taylor Quadrathlon Saturday. We don’t walk around living in fear, we don’t stop doing anything because of what happens. But deep in the back of my mind the rattle sometimes comes out. Part of my daily life is learning to quiet that rattle by doing what makes me happy, what makes me feel alive, and reminding myself not to live in fear, that all is well.