[Editor’s Note: This is an email from Lisa in response to an email sent by Chan following a shooting that took place in front of PTM around 6:00 pm one night while PTM students, staff, and volunteers were in close proximity to bullets. Lisa’s event at Park Avenue was unrelated.]
A weird thing happened to us yesterday. We were walking back from the playground across the parking lot around 3:25. All the other students were waiting by the door with Michelle and Kathy. Andrew had run across the parking lot so I was walking him back from the playground a second time holding hands when we heard 3 or 4 popping noises. Andrew freaked out and dropped down behind the cars. I told him I thought it was a car backfiring. He looked up with tears in his eyes and said,”Miss Lisa, I know what a gun sounds like and that was someone shootin somebody else.”
I listened and waited and didn’t hear anything else, so I looked Andrew in the eye and told him that he was safe here with me and that I really thought it was a car backfiring. He just shook his head. I stood up and looked around and tried to lighten the mood with snack talk. He held my hand and we walked across the street. I didn’t give it another thought as we had a big day ahead of us.
After reading your email, I remembered how Dwight and I were talking at the open front door at PTM and I heard that same noise. Dwight’s eyes got huge and he pushed me inside the door and closed it. Then he smiled and said, “How bout we finish this conversation in my office?” I think that was last spring. I remember thinking, that had to be a car backfiring, why is Dwight so freaked out. Of course, I was wrong.
I guess what gives me pause is my automatic thoughts when I hear that noise and Andrew’s and Dwight’s reaction. When I’m perturbed about someone ripping someones nametag off or putting their feet on someone else’
s chair so they can’t sit down, I really need to remember that these are the same children who know what gun fire sounds like, who spend their weekends visiting fathers in prison and know when to duck.
On the way out the door yesterday, Andrew slipped me this folded piece of notebook paper and kept walking, not even looking at me. I slipped it into my pocket as I was rushing out the door to go speak at CR last night. I didn’t look at it until I was undressing last night and found it in my pocket. Chan, you are not going to believe this. I never connected the dots until I read your email. That sound I heard just came and went for me, but it must have stayed with him that whole afternoon.
I know one thing for sure with a conviction and assurance that can only come from my Lord and King, the most high. There is not any place I would have rather been at 3:25 yesterday than ducking in that parking lot with Andrew. After reading your email, I am so very grateful that I could be there with him. Thank the Lord that because of the consistency of PTM in his life, he could muster the courage to stand up tall, walk across the parking lot and go eat Cheezits.