Kari Anna walked into her living room at three in the afternoon and put down her keys on the black coffee table. Before going into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, she walked over to the television and turned it on. Once in the kitchen she took the kettle and filled it up with water and then plugged it in.
Suddenly, she was startled by the sound of sirens which seemed too close for comfort. With the kettle boiling now, she reached into the cupboard and took out her favorite pink mug. Imprinted on it was the Bible verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Just before she could unplug the kettle the doorbell rang, so Kari Anna went to see who was there.
Just as she reached out to put her hand on the doorknob, the person on the other side began to knock loudly. Just then, a woman's familiar panicked voice was screaming frantically.
"Kari Anna, open the door!" the woman on the other side yelled.
She opened the door and in that instant, her neighbor and good friend Miranda came through the entrance way quickly, falling into Kari Anna's arms.
"It's terrible there was a shooting at the school, we need to go there right now!" Miranda cried as the tears flowed down her cheeks freely.
"Let's go, I will just grab my keys" replied Kari Anna.
"Okay, hurry I have to know the kids are okay." Miranda spoke the words quickly.
With her hands shaking Kari Anna grabbed her car keys and the two women went quickly out the door to the car.
The school was just four blocks away from their homes but at least by driving they would reach there faster. Kari Anna could feel her chest tightening as she thought about what Miranda had just told her. This meant, the sirens she heard just minutes ago, were because someone had gone through her daugher's school with a gun!
Miranda was still crying but more softly now in the passenger's seat, while she kept saying how worried she was about the wellbeing of their children. The girls were the same age, they had been playmates since both were just four years old. Now, at age eleven they were just as close, if not closer than ever. Faith and Loren even looked similar with their sandy blond hair and big blue eyes.
Miranda and Loren were almost at the school when they saw several police cars up ahead. The road was blocked with them to prevent people from passing through. There were people lining the street and cars were everywhere. Pounding the air like thunder were the sounds of parents screaming out the names of their children. Kari Anna stopped the car and both women ran over to a policeman, who was trying to keep some sort of calm in amongst the chaos of the heartrending moment.
"Sir, can you tell us what is going on here? Our daughter's attend this school." Miranda asked as she tried to sound calm.
"Yes, I regret to inform you there was a shooting here just thirty minutes ago. I don't know exactly how many have been injured as yet or if there have been any casualties. I can tell you though that the shooter shot himself and from what I hear he is dead. I am sorry but no one is allowed past this point until we get everything under control." the policeman stated in a professional manner as he was trained to do.
Miranda was numb from the information and turned to look at her friend. Kari Anna was not standing beside her so she glanced around the crowd but her friend appeared to be nowhere in sight. She wondered where Kari Anna, who was there a minute ago could be in this mess of people and mayhem.
Kari Anna was breathless as her heart pounded loudly through her chest. Despite her being out of breath, she continued to run through the crowds of people. She ran through the police, until she reached the front of the school. Law enforcement officers had tried their best to stop her but she fought for her life through them. The mission was to reach her daughter. Faith was the only one on her mind in this horrible moment and she desperately wanted to find her.
There were more ambulances surrounding the school than she had ever seen before, police were scattered throughout the mass amount of children and staff members. Not too far off in the distance, her eye spotted a little hysterical blond girl, who was pushing her way through a large cluster of people. For a moment she thought it was Faith coming toward her and in that instant she felt relief like she had never experienced before.
As the girl came into closer view, Kari Anna recognized her to be Loren, Miranda's daughter. She began to run quickly toward Loren, within a few moments they were grabbing each other into a tight terrified hold.
"Praise God, you are okay! Now we just have to find Faith". Kari Anna exclaimed relieved her friend's daughter was safe.
"Faith is h-h-hurt really bad, she got sh-sh-shot!" Loren could hardly get the words out through her voice, as it was being strangled by fear and terror. Loren's words came out in a weak scared whisper, the panic continued to strangle her voice.
"Where is she?" she asked in a trembling voice.
"She's over there" Loren pointed to where Faith was and together they began to go to her.
"Faith!Faith!" Kari Anna cried as she squeezed herself in between two paramedics, who had her precious daughter on the stretcher.
"Why is her face covered up?" she asked the paramedic, just as she reached out to take the sheet off Faith's face.
"I am so sorry to tell you this but your daughter died just four and a half minutes ago. We did everything we could but the bullet penetrated too deeply and too close to her heart we could not stop the bleeding." the paramedic responded.
Kari Anna was too stunned to speak. The news punched her in the stomach and heart so hard she felt the impact raging through her entire body.
The paramedic put her hand softly on Kari Anna's shoulder again, in an effort to comfort her in some way before telling her the rest of the truly shocking events that horrendously killed her child.
"Your daughter said something before she died. She said her daddy found her and told her they were going to heaven together." the woman said this with undetermined sorrow in her voice.
Kari Anna felt the ground shift beneath her feet as she felt herself fall to the ground.
Silence filled the air as darkness took over. She lay now on the cold cement ground beside the stretcher her daughter lay on. The breath of life now gone from her precious girl the one most special gift from God. Maybe the only one she had left.
Some time had passed when Kari Anna felt a strong unfamiliar yet distinct smell radiating through the darkness and invading her senses.
"Kari Anna! Kari Anna wake up!" the woman's panicked voice pleaded.
"Miranda? What happened? Where am I? Where is Faith?" responded Kari Anna with a voice that was confused and weak. Her face was ashen from all that had transpired.
Her friend leaned over the stretcher and instantly held her in an embrace, offering solace to her tragedy-shocked friend.
No longer where they at the school where such dreadful loss took place. They were now in the emergency section of the hospital where Kari Anna was laid out on a stretcher.
Miranda wondered how she would remind her of the sickening truth, that Faith had gruesomely and hideously been shot by her own father. The father Kari Anna did everything to protect her from all these years.
A few months have gone by since that terrible tragic day. Kari Anna still could not believe that her daughter Faith was gone. All that was left behind were the whisper of her sweet memory that would live on forever.
One day, she would see her daughter dancing in heaven. Until then, she would find comfort in the many sweet memories that would live on in her wake. Her daughter, her blessing, whose life was snuffed out in the heartbeat of one horrible moment. Taken to Heaven on the wings of an angel, Faith, whom she loved more than life itself.
Already, she had begun to ask God how He could use her pain of such tragic loss to help others going through the same thing. Somehow, for God and for Faith she would make a difference in other people's lives. Right now, her daughter's death was still so fresh and the grief consumed every minute of the day and night.
Life without her little girl was like being the living dead. The day Faith was shot something died inside her as well.
"Lord, only you can heal my empty broken heart and it is only by your grace that I will ever be whole again." Kari Anna whispered to God through her tears.
Corinne's walk through the valley of fear and anxiety has inspired Corinne to write. It is her desire to bring hope and encouragement through her writings to other women.