It was 2014. We were set to move out of our home two weeks after Easter, and, as my procrastinating self would have it, I’d yet to pack anything other than books. I decided that we’d spend the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday) purging and packing, and this process would yield to an Easter Sunday with far less clutter – an excellent metaphor for the New Life we were entering with our new house. You know what they say about plans and making God laugh. On Good Friday, I decided to make falafel for supper – a tradition I’d started the year before, and we loved so much that we’ve kept it up. Because it’s a rather involved process, I didn’t get the kitchen cleaned until rather late, and I fell into bed exhausted.
Around midnight, I woke up, startled, to hear what sounded like…gunshots? Naw, couldn’t be. We lived in a good neighborhood. I woke up Superman immediately, and we heard the squeal of tires. Ahhhh, had to be a car backfiring, right? In an instant, Superman was up. I prayed like a crazy person and asked Mama Mary, our guardian angels, and every saint I could think of to intercede for our safety. He walked through the house, clearing each room. The kids were asleep and hadn’t heard a thing. Naturally, we were both shaken up, but he looked around outside and saw nothing out of the ordinary, so we both eventually went back to bed. I convinced myself that it really was a car backfiring, and was able to get to sleep.
The next morning, I had to run out and get packing tape. As I walked from my front door to my driveway to get into the van, I noticed red shards of plastic on the driveway. My stomach turned to lead in an instant. I ran to the rear of the vehicles and my worst fears were confirmed – someone had shot a weapon into our minivan and my parents’ SUV. I ran back into the house, shrieking like a maniac. Superman came running out (phone in hand and already dialing the Sherriff) and inspected the damage. I remember standing in my flip-flops, physically stunned. I couldn’t breathe. These people had fired a weapon into our vehicles, but more alarmingly – the closest bulletholes lie a mere 20 feet from the front bedroom window, where my sweet girls slept. I fell apart.
The next 48 hours were a whirlwind. I called our landlord, bawling so hard I don’t think she understood what I was saying. I called a family friend, who immediately arrived in her minivan and scooped up all of my kids for a day of fun with her so that Superman And I could get rental cars. I called my best friend, who immediately offered us a place to stay that night (because um, yeah. I wasn’t spending another night there thankyouverymuch.) Not only did she offer us her entire home – she was in the next town over spending the Easter weekend with her parents – she and her sister drove 30 miles to be sure the house was ready for us, hiding Easter eggs all over her house, and even leaving Easter baskets at the house for my kids. I called my parents and apparently apologized over and over for their car windows – it’s funny the things you focus on in a traumatic event like that. The day went by so quickly. I didn’t sleep well that night, even safe in a different neighborhood.
We woke up Easter Sunday to a sunny, beautiful day. As I was getting ready for Mass, still shaken up and having to remind myself how to breathe normally, I saw this quote sitting on my friend’s bathroom counter. It was like the Lord delivered a special Easter message, straight from Himself to me.
In the midst of my paralyzing fear and crippling anxiety, Jesus used the words of Pope St. John Paul II to still my soul. Immediately, peace came over my heart. I was able to enjoy Easter Mass, and all I could think about was the many, many ways that Light had triumphed over the darkness that weekend – an inviting, hospitable place to stay; a fun caregiver for the kids who were none the wiser while I was panicking; rental cars on special with steep discounts; a comforting quote from a saint when I needed it most; and of course, the fact that my babies slept soundly throughout the incident because no bullets were fired into windows.
We still don’t know why we were targeted. We probably never will. All I know for sure is, courage conquered fear. Life conquered Death.