Every once in a while, something slaps me on the head as a reminder that life can change long before I have time to snap my fingers. And any action can affect far more people than expected.
I watched the news this morning, relishing in an unexpected bit of free time thanks to there being no kids scheduled for the volunteer gig I usually do on Wednesday mornings. Amanda Knox was on the television, her teary face and wavering words a demonstration of extreme relief that she has her life back. Someone else on the news program commented that Knox’s story is a cautionary tale for parents who send their kids overseas as students, that kids get caught up in things and may be unable to stop or alter what comes next.
I am fascinated with Knox’s story because something like that could happen to my kid. My kid is looking at colleges and thinking about life beyond our house. And I am here, wondering along with her, waiting for that moment when she breaks loose and goes beyond any reach I might have. I saw the televised face of Amanda Knox and wondered what her parents are feeling right now, wonder how they lived through the past four years while their daughter was in jail in another country for a crime she has consistently said she did not do. I am quite sure such a situation with my own daughter would have killed me. I wondered about other parents who watched the story and whether they had similar thoughts. I wondered if other student who study abroad thought about Knox’s story and if it changed how they interacted at all.
As all these thoughts collided in my head, my phone rang. There was a bomb threat at my daughter’s high school this morning. Her school has over 2,000 students.
This story could have gone in any direction. I had no power to alter it. A bomb threat can be loaded or empty, which is the power of threats. People can’t ignore them when they are of a magnitude that could affect thousands of people. We ignore little threats all the time – if we don’t empty the garbage, we’ll get mice; if we don’t pay our bills on time, our credit score will suffer; if we don’t slow down, we’ll get a speeding ticket. But a bomb threat to a school is not going to be ignored. Just like that, everything can change.
The good news is that there was no bomb. Very early this morning, the school was searched. Someone was arrested. There are more cops around on the high school campus today. My kid, and everyone else’s, will still walk out of school this afternoon grousing about homework or tests without much thought to what could have happened.
But I know. I know that it could all have been different, that I could have awakened tomorrow without a daughter. Whoever made the bomb threat was irresponsible and stupid. There is no excuse for that kind of joke. I’m betting that person has not had someone ripped out their lives for four years or for forever, or they might have known better. Empty or loaded, their threat still affected thousands. Just like that. Snap.