Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of a very devastating time for our community.
One word – Meningitis.
Even now that wound is so very fresh. That thought of, “that could have been my child” is still forefront in each parents mind more often than not.
I can’t even begin to address the rumors my son was coming home from school with on a daily basis immediately following this tragedy. Things such as, “they cut Jeremiah’s legs off with a chainsaw” or “we’re all going to die” or even “if it’s not in a bottle I can’t drink it because it might make me sick”. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I remember that day very vividly.
I was at work, a new office job in Tulsa, with my best friend and sister-in-law when my phone rang. A good friend of mine, who never calls because all of our communication is via text, was on the other line so of course I answered it.
All I heard from that conversation was, “Two kids at the school have died. You might want to pick up your son”. I don’t know how I made it through that conversation. Tears streaming down my face, I walked into my best friends office and handed her the phone. I remember asking her to call my ex-husband to pick up E-man from school and to find out what was going on. I sat on the sofa in her office crying, wanting to hug my children but in no shape to drive, listening to her as she called the school and my ex-husband and I’m not sure who else trying to find out what was going on.
I left work early that day. As soon as I was able to drive that is.
We ended up in the ER with ZigZag that night, running a fever over 102 degrees. More than a little stressed considering the circumstances of the day. The ER doctor was great and checked ZigZag for meningitis just in case. It was Roseola. It came out in conversation that he didn’t think it was meningitis but he’d already had one patient die from meningitis that day and he didn’t want to lose another. It was a rough day for him too.
The children who died still have siblings in our school. And you can hear little whisperings amongst the students from time to time. They remember. They know that their friends, Andrew and Shuache, should be here playing with them and planning birthday parties and slumber parties and Spring Break festivities. But they are not here.
Jeremiah improved so much faster and greater than the doctors expected, even at their highest hopes for him. He still has a long road but he’s proved himself to be a fighter.
I do know there has been some talk about whether to commemorate this anniversary with a tree planting or something of the sort but the general census is that it is still too fresh in the students minds to do so. However, I know the daily moment of silence done every morning in the Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary will carry special meaning tomorrow.