A week ago today the world was waking up to devastating news coming out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Like most people, we watched the morning news in shock. Our hearts broke for all the families affected by the senseless act of terror. For us, though, there was an added layer of emotion. A suitcase sitting by the bedroom door served as a reminder of how our day would play out. Brent was on his way to the airport that morning- heading to Vegas on a work trip.
For about an hour our house was a whirlwind with typical morning craziness. As I got the kids ready and fed everyone breakfast, Brent juggled his own morning routine with reaching out to colleagues already in Vegas. Our children remained completely oblivious; however, I felt an almost tangible uncertainty and sadness hang in the air.
After I shooed the kids toward the car I turned to Brent and said “you’re still going, right?”
It was more of a rhetorical question. I knew the answer. Brent did express his concern for any of the victoms’ family members trying to get to Vegas and let me know that he’d give up his seat on the plane in a heartbeat if there was a need. Work would be a distant concern compared to what so many others might be dealing with.
Of course, the rest of my day was full of the typical craziness of mom-life: driving the metaphorical bus for my kiddos to be shuffled from one activity to the next, Bible Study for myself, laundry, etc. Throughout the day my phone rang and texts came in with concerns over Brent going to Vegas. A lot of our friends/family knew he was heading that way and assumed he cancelled the trip. Their concern was well meaning and sweet. It’s a blur now, but I gave some blanket statement about him being fine and just told them to continue praying for everyone actually affected by the tragedy.
I made the mistake of having the radio on in the car on the way home in the afternoon. It’s second nature to play KLOVE with my kids and I wasn’t thinking about the inappropriate (for children whose Daddy was on the way to Vegas) news updates they would hear when the music stopped.
Brent called to tell me he’d arrived, but they were having trouble getting to the hotel. Roads were closed all over Vegas. The law enforcement and media presence was overwhelming. Security was tight. And the mood was obviously very somber. I know he expected exactly what he arrived to, but somehow the mental preparation couldn’t compare to physically being there.
When I finally got the kids to bed I turned on the news for the first time since early that morning. Watching the reports, seeing the footage and hearing more details about the scene took its toll on me. I started to let worry and doubt creep in. Why did Brent go? Would he be safe? What if there were more to come? What kind of emotions were going through our kids’ minds knowing their Daddy was in Vegas?
For the first time all day fear and anxiety really took over. On a day when the natural tendency was to lock your family inside and keep everyone safe…I’d helped pack my husband’s suitcase?
It took prayer- and an obscenely big bowl of ice cream- to get back to a place of peace. It’s not my job to protect my family from evil in the world by hiding them out in a protective bubble. But it is my job to teach my children to be light in a dark world. And to lead by example. That’s exactly what Brent did for our kids that day.
Brent did what Jesus commands. He went to Vegas knowing the full story. In this world there will be darkness, danger and all sorts of horrible things. But evil doesn’t win in the end. We’re thankful for that truth and the opportunity to give hope in the face of fear and grief.
The next day I shared these thoughts with my children when they asked about Daddy’s safety on this business trip. We talked about his decision to go and why it was important. My 10-year old daughter quickly pointed out “light shines the brightest in dark places.” Yes it does! Although Brent is home now, our family will continue to pray for Vegas. And we’ll continue to discuss why we won’t stop traveling- or living- out of fear.
For some helpful ways to talk to your kids about this, check out my post: A Travel Mom’s Perspective on Teaching Your Kids About 9/11. Though the scenarios are completely different, all 5 conversation tips apply to discussing what happened in Vegas.
To end on a lighter note- Brent flew home on Wednesday afternoon. After he’d boarded the plane and taxied part of the runway, he called me to say that Las Vegas shut down the airport for Air Force One to take off. I relayed this information to my children and Miller (5) quickly pointed out “President Trump should be more patient. My Daddy’s plane was first!” At least Brent got a cool picture sitting out on the runway next to the President’s plane!