I Survived the Parkland Shooting. Here’s Why I’m Ready to Go Back to School

As she stood on the other side of her daughter’s school’s doors, minutes felt like hours. “I was in constant contact with Amanda,” Vicki says. “I knew the SWAT team was with her, so I was able to stay relatively calm. But one of my friends texted me that Meadow Pollack’s mom couldn’t get in touch with Meadow. That was the first inkling I had that it was more serious than I thought. Then I found out that another friend’s daughter was shot in the knee. I was standing in front of the school, texting with Amanda and waiting for her.”

An hour and a half later, the students were released from the auditorium. “While I was running away from campus, I saw a stretcher but tried not to look,” says Messing. “My mom was waiting on the corner, and I went right to her.”

But only once they’d left the crime scene did Messing and her mom begin to process what they’d witnessed. Then, the aftershock set in. “When we got home later and turned on the TV and I saw what actually happened—I don’t know how I was so calm,” Vicki says. “I think it was a blessing that I didn’t know what was happening at the time.” Their phones buzzed, as names of the survivors and the wounded arrived. “As time went on, I realized we weren’t going to find out where Meadow was.”

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Amanda Messing and her family, long before the shooting. Courtesy

“I never thought something like this could happen at my school,” Messing says. She’d known the gunman, Nikolas Cruz, from middle school, and knew of alleged past aggravations (“He used to pull the fire alarm and once threw a desk at a teacher”). Still, she says, “Parkland is so secluded and safe and quiet. Everyone knows each other. It’s so bizarre that this happened here.”

But that Parkland is gone. And that, in part, is why Messing says she’s ready to go back to school—to surround herself with people who know and understand what she’s been through.

“I think she needs to go back in order to heal and move on,” says Vicki. “They’re the only ones who know how each other feels. She needs to be with her high school family.


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Messing’s text conversation with her friend. Courtesy

“Everyone in this town is suffering some type of pain from this. Parkland is such a close-knit community that we were all connected to each person that we lost in some way. We mourn them together as a community,” adds Vicki. “He didn’t just kill those children—he killed something inside each one of our kids: their innocence.”

Messing doesn’t know exactly what to expect of the first day back. But she’s hopeful that returning to school will offer her and her classmates the comfort of unity and an opportunity to take action. “Parkland will not let the precious lives we lost go without being remembered,” Vicki says. “It is in their memory that we fight for change so that this never happens again, anywhere.”