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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fear, served with a side of guilt

When the phone rang yesterday morning at 8:53 and my husband was on the other end telling me "I just want you to know that I'm okay" I'll admit, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was in the process of getting ready for work, I had no TV, no radio, no social media going on. Just me and my hair dryer. I was like...."okayyyyyy, why?" He told me there had been a shooting on the base. The base where he works in DC. At that moment, 10,000 thoughts went flying through my head. None of them made any sense, other than he was okay. He was safe. And that's what I held onto.

The shooting occurred in a different building across the base from where he works. There was one shooter. No, there were three. There were 4 people dead. There was a guy lying on the ground in front of CVS who had been shot. There were 2 gunmen. There were 6 people dead. The gunman was dead. There were 2 other gunmen on the loose. No, the guy in the picture by CVS had a heart attack. I heard more inaccuracies, more misinformation. The only thing I held onto was that my husband was continually in contact with me. I sat at my desk at work with an uneasy knot in my stomach. I knew he was safe, he reassured me throughout the day that he was in a brick building, away from windows, completely safe. But the media was just running rampant with crazy stories that they HAD to put out before anything was verified, which in turn, scares the hell out of the public, who rely on them for facts. Sadly, facts don't matter, getting the story out before anyone else matters, regardless of how inaccurate the story turns out to be.

He was finally cleared to leave his building at 7:15 last night, long after the last train for home had gone. So he took the Metro and I drove to pick him up. The relief I felt when I saw him was unmatched by any relief I've ever felt. It was only then that I allowed myself to think about all those folks whose loved ones weren't going to come home. I thought about those family members who were not in touch with their loved ones all day. How frightening must that have been for them? The whole not knowing what's going on scares the daylights out of me. I was lucky. But others were not. I felt guilty for not thinking about others all day. Real guilt, because my husband was with me, and others were without their spouses, their sons or daughters, their grandfathers or grandmothers. Their neighbors. Their friends. I felt terrible for those who lost loved ones, but I was thankful that I was not one of them.

Guilt is a strong emotion. So is fear, and I tried to imagine the fear of the unknown. And it made me sick. My mind wandered, during my drive home with my husband safely in my car. It wandered back to that Tuesday 13 years ago. That beautiful September day when we were attacked by terrorists. The fear that family members must've felt not knowing if their loved ones were alive or dead. Phone reception in NYC was spotty at best that day. My husband was able to get through to his sister who worked several blocks from the World Trade Center. Others weren't as lucky. And so they waited and wondered what had become of their loved ones. As I drove home last night I could not even wrap my brain around the fear of NOT knowing that my loved one was safe. It was just something I cannot imagine going through.

My heart goes out to all who lost a loved one yesterday and to those who face an uphill battle in their recovery from gunshots. And an unbelievable amount of gratitude goes out to all of my friends and family who called, texted, Facebook'ed, or emailed to check in on us, to make sure we were okay, to see if I needed help with anything. I'm lucky to have an amazing connection to everyone who helped make yesterday a little easier to bear. And I'm lucky that I had my husband home with me last night.

15 comments:

  1. Really puts things in perspective. Thanks for sharing, so horrible.

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  2. I thought about you all night last night. I cannot even imagine what you were going through. Thank GOD your husband is OK. I wish I was there so I could hug you both. Life is a beautiful gift--you are so blessed to be together now, safe and sound. Sending love and light to you and your beautiful family, Teri <3

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    1. Life certainly IS a beautiful gift, Marcia. Thanks so much for your kind words. Hugs to you!

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  3. Perfectly put Teri. For those who have been in that type of a situation, they'll know exactly what you're talking about. Can you imagine those who could not get to a phone, could not text or email to let someone know they were OK? Or the unfortunate family who has no idea that anything has happened until they unexpectedly get that dreaded knock on the door or phone call?

    I'm glad your husband came home safe and sound. I'm glad you were in contact with him when all this was happening. I'm sorry for the loss of all those innocent people and my condolences go out to their families/friends.

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    1. Thanks honey. My heart breaks for those who lost or suffered.

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  4. All of it...very well said. I know exactly how you were feeling as my husband was on a plane to NYC on the morning of 9/11. It's a strange mix of emotions, no question. I didn't realize how close to this tragedy you (and your husband) were. So thankful that he's okay. xo

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    1. Thanks Michelle. Much love to you and yours.

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  5. Glad things ended well for your family. It was a scary day here on Cap Hill and so many lives changed.

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    1. You're so right, so much HAS changed. Glad you're okay!

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  6. Powerful.

    I am thankful that you and your husband are safely together.

    Prayers for those whose loved ones perished.

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  7. Teri, this must have been so terrifying. What a relief to finally see your husband. Your head goes to horrible places during these moments, and our current hunger for the story, any story immediately, instead of accurately does not help. I am so sorry that you and your husband had to go through this. It brings up so many issues on so many fronts.

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  8. SO glad your husband is ok. I grew up outside of DC and my dad works in the district. I waited all day to hear from friends that they were ok, so nerve wracking. We just can't seem to get a break from these terrible shootings. Extra thankful tonight!

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  9. So scary. It reminds me of what we went through last year when there was a shooting at the courthouse here in Wilmington and my brother in law was shot. It was crazy!

    So glad your hubs is okay!!!!

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  10. So many emotions in a situation like that. I had my own taste of "not knowing" with the school shooting in Chardon, Ohio. I used to teach there and have many friends who are still there. I checked facebook every few minutes looking for updates from them to know that they were ok. It was heart wrenching to be waiting to hear ... and then I felt guilty when I was relieved that everyone I knew was ok, because there were three students who died that day. How could I be relieved when three kids were killed? I felt guilty and selfish. I am so thankful your husband is ok and my heart goes out to all of the families who were impacted.

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