At ground level

A column about LIFE

It was a surreal day in Cupertino…

I woke up this morning (Wednesday, October 5) to the sounds of helicopters and police sirens and my daughter bursting into my room yelling, “Mom, there’s a gunman loose in Cupertino! The police are everywhere. Turn on the TV!”

That was enough to make me jump out of bed and turn on the television. Sure enough, on the news was a scene shot just about three blocks away from our home. Police had cordoned off a 10-mile radius and police cars had blocked off the road we took to school, which was also the road to the quarry, where a tragedy had occurred. It appears an employee at the quarry had shot and killed some people and fled the scene. The police were hunting him down.

Then, more sirens and another piece of breaking news. Another group of law enforcement officers were at the corner of Homestead Avenue and Wolf Road. There had been another shooting incident by the Hewlett Packard parking lot. Were these two incidents related? The news crew didn’t know.

Then came the phone calls and emails from the school. A message on my cell phone, home phone and later, office phone, notified me that due to police activity in the area, I was to keep my child home from school. Of course, my daughter cheered. I was in a quandary. I had to be in Los Gatos for a meeting in an hour. While I felt we were safe and believed the gunman was no longer in the area, my mother instinct told me I should remain at home with my daughter, at least until I was sure that the authorities had everything under control.

Later, we learned the shootings were related. The gunman was sighted by the Sunnyvale/Cupertino border, which happened to be close to where I work. Feeling my daughter would be safe at home, I decided to skip the meeting and proceed to work. When I got there, the office received a notification from the police department, asking us to keep safe and giving the gunman’s description. Our office remained open, but was placed on lockdown.

As the day progressed we learned more about this gunman. A single-parent, father of a teen-age daughter, a seemingly good person, a TV host who even authored a book and preached against non-violence. How could he have shot and killed three people and wound six others? For a while I felt sorry for the man. He must have snapped. But how? Why? I wondered out loud.

“He will be judged at the pearly gates. I have no sympathy. He killed three people,” someone muttered.

With the day off from school, I allowed my daughter to watch a movie with friends. Some people at work were surprised I was so permissive. I seriously doubted a man on the run would want to visit the mall. And I couldn’t keep my daughter home alone, when I recalled that time, when I was not much older than her. That day when I had arrived at school and was met by a flood of students streaming out of the school. Martial law had been declared, they cried out. No school! Soon after, my friends and I found ourselves frolicking around the streets of Manila, carefree, oblivious to the soldiers with guns that rode by in their trucks. That day we pranced into a parlor and got our nails and hair done, unconcerned about the uncertain future before us and the gravity of what was to unfold after that monumental day. Little did we know that a year later, we would be among the many students marching in front of the President’s palace calling for justice, democracy and the end to a corrupt dictatorship. My daughter’s afternoon was tamer than mine, it seems. She returned safely home after the movie and her afternoon was otherwise uneventful.

Back in Cupertino it soon turned to afternoon and still the gunman had not been found. I received yet another notification from the school thanking us for our cooperation and telling us they would continue to keep us abreast on further developments.

At around 4:30 p.m. we received yet more breaking news. Steve Jobs, Apple co-founder, innovator, visionary had died. The toll of the day had finally taken over and I trekked home with a very heavy heart.

I was reminded of a few things today:

1. Stuff happens and your life can change in an instant.

2. The safety of family is more important than a meeting at work.

3. I was impressed with the school’s diligence in notifying parents about the status of the school and students.

4. Kids have to experience a little adventure. You can’t keep them locked up in the house, alone and afraid.

5. I didn’t realize how much I admired Steve Jobs until today. I didn’t know the man, but have always loved his Apple and Mac computers. I was surprised his death hit me hard. Godspeed, Steve Jobs and thanks for my Mac and iPhone!

October 6, 2011 - Posted by | Children, Family, Life, Parenting, Philippines | , , , , ,

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