I joked this morning on Facebook about how vulnerable I felt having left my phone at home. Keep in mind, I would be back at home by 12:15 and connected once again.

I blissfully squirreled myself into an office and, uninterrupted, completed a work task that has been haunting me for a week, just begging for a quiet block of time. After preschool pick-up and lunch, I plopped the three year old on the couch for a bit of Peppa Pig on the DVR.

And there they were as the television screen faded into focus. Images of ambulances, so very many ambulances, lined up. Police officers. Flashing lights. Audio that wasn’t working from a field reporter offering me no context. The words: “Shooting at Elementary School.” The channel was local.

Panic. Fear. Where? Where? WHERE! It only took 15 seconds for the video to scroll through to show me this was Connecticut, but for 15 seconds my heart seized and my stomach dropped and all I could think of was the folly of forgetting my phone while my child could be hurt, scared, alone. Even now, I am still shaken. Still shaking. Still afraid. Enough to take fingers to keys to type, to make sense, to feel a little less alone in knowing that there are mothers not breathing a sigh of relief. There are mothers keening for their children. Mothers rushing to emergency rooms. Mothers pacing floors while doctors tend to injuries little bodies should never endure. Mothers numb with denial, knowledge, loss.

Empty stockings will remain on mantles. Gifts are tucked away in closets to bring fresh tears when discovered at some later date. Brothers and sisters are unmoored and frightened. Children now carry scars that school isn’t safe.

The cocoons we create for our children are fragile. Despite our best intentions and most fervent precautions, predators will still find a way into our lives to shake our souls.

I feel sick for those families.

I can’t dislodge the image of those flashing lights.

I will be waiting, impatiently, for my son to step off the school bus this afternoon. I will be waiting to hold him tight, to remind my heart of the feel of his skinny little embrace, to buffer his protest, to ruffle his hair while I pretend I’m not crying, to own the joy that my boy has come home to me.

Because in Connecticut, someone like me won’t be able to do that today.