Last Saturday I ventured out to the South Florida fair with my family and a group of close friends, it had been eight years since we last visited it. We decided to go in the evening and make it a late night. Sophie does not sweat and becomes overheated easily so I thought it would be better to take her when the sun went down and we did. I prayed that she would handle the noise and the crowds and we almost did not make it past an hour and a half if not for the suggestion of her OT Kim to get her on a ride after she became agitated with the noise, lights and crowds, I could not get her to take her head out of my shirt (super overstimulated). Big brother Gabriel took her on the Merry-go-round which was just what she needed to get her back to her peaceful place. . The rest of the evening went great, we hung around the food vendors most of the night to avoid the noise and the kids rode rides, ate food and had a blast.
At around midnight we decided to get ready to head home when I decided to go on the hunt for some candy caramel apples. Why I suddenly decided that was a good idea baffles me still. I was about 6-7 vendor trailers away from my group when about 15 feet across from me some kids take out guns and start shooting “IN MY DIRECTION”. I froze in fear as I see the fire-spitting out of the gun and the person next to me limping trying to get out of the line of fire. It all happened so fast but if not for another bystander who yelled for me to get down I could have been shot. As if that was not enough they came around the vendor trailer and started shooting again. They shot two people before they took off running.
Next thing I know there was a swarm of police officers dressed in swat gear running toward us, a lot of yelling, guns pointing all over the place than yelling Get down” then “Get behind us” from the officers. I was in total shock, I could hear them yelling to move but I could not move. It was not until I saw my husband from a distance who was running toward me frantically looking for me that it hit me to move, I ran to him without looking back. He held me as if it was the last time he was ever going to hold me for just a brief moment before we took off toward our family and friends. My close friend Jacqui told me my husband was very calm when it all happened moved the kids out of harms way, was reassuring and in total control before he took off to find me. The fair was then in lock down for over an hour and we practically had to push our way out with the thousands of people there. I was so happy to be home and put my children to bed safe and sound. I had a really hard time getting to sleep, my husband literally had to hold me super tight so I could fall asleep.
You know everyday is a gift but sometimes we forget how delicate our lives truly are. In an instant I could have been injured or killed by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was very terrifying, emotional, sad and traumatic at the same time. It has taken this past week for me really absorb what happened. The night mares have finally stopped, hopefully for good.
The two people injured are ok…thank goodness. The 17-year-old kid involved in the shooting was just arrested. The news stated the shooting happened outside of the fair gates which is not true. I was there, literally feet away from the shooter and I was inside. I assume they are trying not to scare people in hopes that next year they won’t be afraid to go to the fair when it returns.
What this experience has taught me is that life is precious. Don’t waste the little time you have, enjoy every second of everyday, laugh a lot, spend as much time with the people who make you happy and love your family. Focus not on what you don’t have but on all you do have because you never know what moment will be your last.