Reflections on a Tragedy

If you’re looking for a funny or silly post today, you’ve come to the wrong place. My usual cheer and humor has been replaced with sadness as a result of yesterday’s high school shooting. See, I found out last night that the assistant principal, who was shot and killed, is married to my uncle’s cousin. So, while I didn’t know her personally, I do know her family and am filled with sorrow for their loss and this senseless act of violence. Even if she wasn’t someone in the family, the whole situation is really horrible.

Omaha is a relatively small community. While we are a thriving, bustling, growing city of about 800,000 people, it still feels like a small town for those of us who grew up here. People say all the time that “we never thought it would happen to us.” Sounds cliché but it really is true.

Then it does happen, as it did back in 2007, and the community feels it. There is a feeling of fear and sadness in the air across the city. You see prayer vigils on the news. You see flowers on the sidewalks outside the mall. But eventually, while you will never forget, you move on. You think, ok, we’ve had our turn; we’ve experienced our tragedy; our time is done. It won’t happen here again.

But it does, only 3 years later. And this time it involves people you know, or that your family knows. And the air fills with sorrow once again.

As I said, I didn’t know Dr. Kaspar but I’ve heard a lot about her and I did meet her once. Way back in 1991, when I was trying to decide on a high school to attend, I visited with her at Millard South. I grew up in Millard and that was the high school I was supposed to attend. But my family is Catholic and my parents were encouraging me to look at the Catholic schools too. So I visited them all. I  won’t lie – Millard South intimidated the hell out of me. It was huge and scary for the shy girl that I was. But Dr. Kaspar was nice and friendly. Ultimately, I chose Marian, a Catholic school, so I don’t have a history with Millard South like my friends do. They’ve all said what an amazing teacher, leader and person she was.

My parents know her too, of course, being that she was married to my uncle’s cousin. My mom told me this morning what a compassionate person Vicki was and that she probably tried to talk to the young man who shot her. But he either didn’t give her that chance or wouldn’t listen. Instead, he shot her multiple times at point-blank range.

Vicki’s son Ronnie also worked at the school, as a Chemistry teacher. She had talked to him that morning and told him that she had to suspend a student and was nervous about it. I’m sure that was an unpleasant part of her job, regardless of who the student was or why. As an educator, you never want to tell a kid they are suspended from school. But it was her job and she did it. And got killed for it.  As her son was taking care of his classroom, locking it down and making sure his students were ok, Ronnie got a call to come to the office immediately. He knew why. He got there too late though.  His mom had already been transported to the hospital. Her heart stopped several times on the way and on the operating table but all times she fought back, except for the last one. She was tough but no one can survive what her body was put through. She is now gone and can now join her mother and daughter, who are already in heaven.

Driving to work this morning, I was listening to the radio and the show was dedicated to the shooting. They basically opened up the phone lines to allow anyone to call in and talk about their feelings, view-point, etc. Hearing the callers talk really brought up a lot of emotions. I can’t imagine being a parent with a child at that school and not knowing if they are alive or dead. Or being one of the students, who are told there is a Code Red, but have no idea why or what’s going on. I shudder at the thought.

As with the Westroads shooting, life will go on and the events of yesterday will become a distant memory for most. I’m sure we will all wonder when the next time will be. Seems like more and more these days, people are resorting to violence to solve their problems so stories like this are bound to pop up more often. But we can’t live in fear. That gives power to those who don’t deserve power. We have to live our lives fully, as a way of honoring those who no longer can.

My thoughts and prayers are with my family, Dr. Kaspar’s, Dr. Case’s, the shooters and all the others affected by yesterday’s tragedy. May God be with all of you.

Rest in Peace Vicki. You were loved by many and will never be forgotten.

Note: the details on the shooting itself are based on heresay and news stories and may not reflect actual events.


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Random Thought Wednesday, 2

A Year in Review

Waiting Room


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