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Santa Fe’s Invisible Wounds : NPR

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After a gunman killed eight college students and two lecturers at the highschool in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, memorials to the victims had been created.

Cory Turner/NPR


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Cory Turner/NPR

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After a gunman killed eight college students and two lecturers at the highschool in Santa Fe, Texas, on Friday, memorials to the victims had been created.

Cory Turner/NPR

If this had been a traditional Monday morning, college students at Santa Fe Excessive Faculty in Santa Fe, Texas, could be heading again to class. As an alternative, college is closed, its lecture rooms nonetheless a criminal offense scene. The massive query for investigators: How did a gunman stroll into college Friday morning, killing 10 individuals and wounding 13?

However Katelyn “Kayte” Alford and her 1,400 classmates wrestle with a special query: How can we transfer on from this?

Friday morning, Kayte (pronounced Katie), 18, thought her college was on hearth. She was in her floral design class, on the second ground, when the alarm sounded. She dropped the whole lot and ran — exterior and throughout the highway. There, one among her associates pulled up in a truck, ghostly pale.

“I received shot, I received shot!” her buddy cried.

Kayte felt confused. “I used to be like, ‘Shot? It does not make any sense. What’s going on?’ And I look down, and he or she has a bullet gap in her leg.”

Kayte’s telling this story a day after the taking pictures — from the security of her grandmother’s home, the place she lives. However even right here, there’s uncertainly. The rambling brick two-story needed to be renovated after the ravages of Hurricane Harvey final yr.

Kayte sits at a small island within the kitchen. She is slight with lengthy hair previous her waist. Her fingernails match the thick, darkish frames of her glasses. Her grandmother, Lisa Clemons, and her mom, Danell Reed, stand round her, for consolation. All three attended Santa Fe excessive.

In that second Friday, alongside the roadside, Kayte says she had a panic assault. However the worst was but to return. She realized later {that a} boy she’d grown up with, Chris Stone, had been killed. She desires individuals exterior of Santa Fe to know that his smile brightened each room, and that he was liked by everybody. However, as she says this, Kayte’s face darkens. The panic hasn’t gone.

“I do not need to go anyplace,” she says. “I do not need to depart my home. I do not need to be alone. I can not even stand up and go to the lavatory with out having my mother include me as a result of I am continually trying over my shoulder. I used to be making an attempt to take a seat within the yard, and I used to be scared that someone was going to leap over the fence and shoot me.”

Earlier within the day, when authorities bused college students again to Santa Fe excessive to choose up their automobiles, Kayte merely could not do it. She’s a senior, so near commencement, however says she will’t think about going again there. Her mom feels the identical.

“I do not need my child going again to high school,” Reed says, her voice frayed by grief and fury. “I would fairly her not stroll throughout that stage after which simply mail the diploma.”

Kayte talks of looking for a brand new regular after the taking pictures. She used to like volleyball and observe and says she’d been accepted to a two-year faculty — with hopes of transferring to Sam Houston State College. However now she’s unsure of her future. She feels … upended. So does Clemons, Kayte’s grandmother.

“Actually, after we noticed her, I hugged her so tight. And I thank God that she’s okay. However then I see the opposite households that misplaced a toddler. I do not understand how I might have coped with that. Actually,” Clemons says, her breath quickening by means of tears. “I do not know if we would misplaced her what we’d have accomplished. I do not see how these households — how do you progress previous that? You are not imagined to outlive your youngsters. You are simply not.”

Kayte feels this too, this guilt. In actual fact, on the finish of our dialog, the very last thing she says is that she needs she might apologize to the scholars and lecturers who died.

“As a result of I used to be fortunate sufficient to make it out,” Kayte says. “They weren’t. And I will dwell with that for the remainder of my life — as a result of it might have simply been me. Nevertheless it wasn’t.”

Kayte is getting assist. She says she’s going to see a therapist this week. And he or she has her household. Analysis reveals that supportive caregivers are very important to mitigating the consequences of childhood trauma.

“You may’t let individuals like [the gunman] take your life from you,” Clemons tells Kayte. “He was capable of take theirs, however you’ll be able to’t let him take yours. It’s important to transfer ahead. You simply should.”

Later that night time, Kayte does take a small step ahead.

She goes to a cookout, behind the city financial institution, for fellow college students and household. A rapid-response crew of chaplains, all carrying blue shirts, ease their method across the teenagers who sit in small clusters at lengthy, white tables, speaking quietly. Many crying.

Kayte walks previous the lavish unfold of Texas brisket, sandwiches and chocolate cake and finds a buddy. Collectively, they disappear into the gang.

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