imgres-6My 12 year old son, Levi, has anxiety issues. This isn’t a secret. So to those of you who might suggest that I’m exposing some kind of family skeleton, I want you to know that I always check with my family first before airing our dirty laundry in public. As long as they’re okay with it, I figure it’s fair game for public consumption.

That being said, the other day at school his math teacher sent him to his homeroom classroom to make copies for her during class. He happily complied and set off to do so. Apparently, only seconds after leaving the classroom, word got out about a ponytailed, pistol carrying stranger at a school a few blocks away. Our school went into immediate lockdown. I’m not talking “drill.” I’m talking serious, “we’re in a different kind of world after Newtown” lock down. So while Levi haplessly skipped across campus, everyone else bolted their doors, pinned up paper to cover the windows and huddled in bathrooms, closets and corners.

Levi thought it was more than strange when the door to his classroom was locked. Even more odd were the darkened windows that left no view to the inside of the room. He looked around and noted that no one else was anywhere within sight. Hmmm? He remained calm and clear-headed though and knocked softly on the door. Luckily, his teacher slyly squinted through a side gap in the papered window. Then, like an episode of “The Munsters,” the classroom door opened a crack and a hand emerged, grabbed my son, and dragged him into the room. It wasn’t until after he was safe that he felt the anxiety of the situation catching up to him. But to his amazing credit, he held it together and was able to talk himself down and maintain control of his emotions.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me. But I find the irony of this inane confluence of events staggeringly comical. I mean how is it possible that my kid, the one with severe anxiety issues, ends up on the wrong side of a lock-down, only days after the most gut-wrenching massacre in our nation’s history? I guess it’s okay to find humor in the irony since no one was hurt and nothing bad really transpired. I can’t even contemplate the real devastation that could have occurred had a copy-cat ventured onto ours or a nearby campus. Maybe the humor is simply survivor’s guilt or some kind of defense mechanism to protect myself from the overwhelming pain etched into our souls by last week’s horrific destruction.

Sometimes it’s just too painful to contemplate the very real risks we endure every day as we try to live our lives, watch over our families, and protect our precious children. And so to all who suffered a loss in Connecticut, our hearts ache over your pain. The nation grieves along with you and sends love, strength and healing to you.

May you all be blessed with a sense of peace and may God bring comfort to those in mourning who must now learn to accept the unfairness of life as they struggle to live without the earthly presence of someone so deeply cherished.

Airport Security

A funny thing happened to me on the way back to Phoenix last week. Sounds like a Jackie Mason routine. But here’s what happened: I’m at Ohare airport with my kids, trying to manage a bag of overflowing McDonald’s fries, two carry-ons, a bottle of water that had just opened in my purse, and my laptop computer which I’m desperately attempting to keep dry. We manage to find a few seats at the gate and the uniform clad lady at the microphone,(what do they call those people who check you in and give you the bad news about late departures anyway?), is announcing how full the flight is and how if you have more than one carry-on per person they are going to take your bag and check it. She’s urging people to come forward and relinquish their excess baggage before it becomes an embarrassing scene at the end of the ramp.

For once I think, “Wow, this doesn’t pertain to me. I am actually following the rules like a normal person.” Suddenly, this sweet-faced, elderly Asian woman looks at me, her eyes filled with despair. She says in broken English, “You…two bags. Three people. Me…too many…bag. You say…one…yours.” My boys both look at me expectantly. After all, I tell them it’s their responsibility to help people out whenever they can. But I keep hearing the “Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry anything on board for them?” question ringing in my ears.

“I’m sorry,” I say with the same empathy I might show to a would-be suicide bomber who asked me to take his explosive-laden vest onto the aircraft with me. “I just can’t do that.” My 9-year-old looks up at me with shock. “Mom,” he chastises, “Why don’t you help that lady?” “Well, sweetheart,” I say, loud enough for everyone around us to hear, “It’s against the rules to pretend that someone else’s luggage is your own at an airport. You could get in a lot of trouble for doing that.”

The moment passed rather quickly. The kindly Asian woman checked her bag. My kids got over my lack of compassion. (They’re big into rule following which helped the situation a lot.). But here it is days later and I’m still seeing that woman’s pleading eyes and wondering why I didn’t just help her out. It’s not like I don’t have enough guilt for my maternal and familial failings, but now I feel sick over some stranger who tried to pawn off her extra suitcase on me. This is ridiculous.

The truth is, I should be applauding myself. My behavior was so atypical for me. Usually I just smile and concur, without a flitter of thought as to the possible outcomes of my actions. But this time I was sensible. I didn’t know that woman. I had no way of knowing what she was carrying on board. I was thoughtful, mature, and rational. I didn’t want to endanger my children. I did the right thing. So why do I feel so icky?