Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate, and be thankful. Every year, my entire family and I would sit down for an amazing meal of homemade turkey, dressing, casseroles, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy. By the end of the evening, we were all busting at the seams and enjoying each other’s company.
Thanksgiving of 2008 was different though, I was pregnant with my second child. It started the day before Thanksgiving. A former hospital employee at Central Peninsula General Hospital went on a shooting spree through the hospital, after being fired shortly before. Several were injured and a couple killed. The hospital shooting ended outside of the hospital with the cops opening fire on the gunman. The gunman died.
I was at home, going about my normal routine when I found out about the shooting. My friend had spent the night, and my mom came over (she lived next door) and told us about it. We were both shocked. We lived in a small town where almost everyone knows everyone. People were nice, said hello on the sidewalk and tipped their hats at one another. How could this happen here? The rest of the day was bleak, and if I recall correctly, the weather matched it, gray and cloudy.
During the night before Thanksgiving, I started getting sick. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was dehydrated, and couldn’t even stand to drink water after puking so much. My head was throbbing and I could see globs of color floating in front of my eyes. It hurt to move. It hurt to breathe. I was miserable. Fearing the affect that this stomach virus could have on my unborn baby, I went to the emergency room early thanksgiving morning. I was afraid to go there, especially after the shooting had just happened the previous day, but I needed medical attention.
Walking through the hospital towards the Emergency Room, you could see where areas were taped off due to damage and places where the walls were being repainted. There were many security guards hovering around, keeping an eye on everyone, and of course, there was me; a pregnant girl on Thanksgiving, puking into a blue bag. I was admitted to the hospital that night for dehydration and an inability to retain fluids and was kept for three days for observation.
Even though I was disappointed to miss out on the Thanksgiving festiivities I normally enjoyed with my family every year, I could help but feel a deep sense of sympathy for the families of the people who were killed, including the gunman, just the day before at the very same hospital I was recovering in. I couldn’t imagine how their families must be feeling, and grieving, especially on the holidays, realizing that their own traditions are now one person short. At that moment, I bowed my head and gave thanks for my own family; my precious daughter, my husband and my unborn baby.