The morning of September 6, was a normal Thursday morning for me. I had just settled into my day at work when I got a phone call from my brother-in-law. It was 9:32 a.m. He doesn’t call me often, and I looked at the incoming call thinking it odd that he was calling me at this time. So I picked up.
Right when I answered, he said to me very calmly, “Sit down. I have some terrible news.” In the nanosecond before he told me what the terrible news was, I immediately thought something happened to my parents – stroke, heart attack, maybe someone was in a car wreck? But never did I expect, “Whitney is in Cincinnati and has been shot multiple times in her chest.”
I can’t remember exactly what was said in the next few seconds. He mentioned he talked to her for a minute, that she was being taken to UC Medical, he didn’t know what happened, and he didn’t know the extent of her injuries. He had already talked to my parents and everyone was on their way to Cincinnati. He didn’t know much. My mind starting racing…to the worst case scenario of course.
What happened? I thought maybe she was mugged. I called my husband and told him what I knew and he immediately left work to come get me to make the drive to Cincinnati. My co-workers who heard me in hysterics, came into my office to try and console me. We tried to figure out what happened. I went to Cincinnati local news websites, and it was the top story. An active shooter at Fifth Third headquarters.
It was like an out of body experience watching the news. They talked of multiple fatalities. Was one of them Whitney? It had been 20 minutes since I talked to Waller. Could she have died since they talked? For whatever reason, I kept thinking of Princess Diana. I remember that she had spoken after her car wreck, and then still died. So knowing that Whitney had talked to Waller wasn’t very reassuring to me.
The next two hours were hell on earth. I went from extreme optimism about her being okay, to imagining her in emergency surgery and dying on the operating table. I thought how ironic it was that this was happening to her. She was passionate about gun safety for our children prior to this, and now she was a victim of a mass shooting.
Waller called as soon as he arrived…he was the first one there. She was going to be ok! The range of emotions I went through in those two hours, were the most extreme I’m sure I’ll ever experience. From utter despair to the purest joy on earth.
I am so happy that she is the one that is here and leading the charge for Whitney/Strong. And that we’re not doing it in her honor like the parents of Sandy Hook. We are the lucky ones who get to fight alongside Whitney. She is tenacious, smart, relentless, and the drive behind her is unparalleled to anything I have experienced. She is surrounding herself with people who share her passion and who will not stop until something changes. Her last three months have been spent pouring over data on guns, on conference calls with experts, meeting with legislatures that can help her platform, building her team, and occasionally taking care of herself while nursing her way back to health. She knows the road to change is long, and she’s in it for the long haul. She won’t lose steam, or rest until there is true change. The team at Whitney/Strong won’t either. And those of you who have joined us, I hope you won’t either.