"Babe, there was a shooting at the Mandalay Bay"
Those are the first words that I heard when my boyfriend woke me up. I was still groggy from just having fallen asleep and sat up to have him read the news to me. We stayed up for two more hours texting, Snapchatting, calling, and staying glued to social media to find out what was the fate of our family and friends until my heart was broken and my eyes full of tears.
Waking up the next day was hard. I stayed glued to my phone for most of the day and cried in front of my students. I called my dad grieving as he told me what happened after being at work all night with the rest of our local heroes at Metro. My coworker held me at lunch while I wept not knowing if everyone I loved was okay, knowing my hometown was hurt, and there was nothing I could do about it.
As the week went on, I was still grieving for my hometown. My first love, the place that I will always call my first home, the place that I thought I would never leave, and the place I return to with so much love in my heart.
I saw the true colors of Las Vegas, the 4 hours or longer waits at blood banks, the nurses, doctors, counselors, police officers, firefighters, and more coming in on their day off to help victims and their families, people driving strangers to the hospital, the man who brought crosses for all 58 lives taken too soon, the shelters for those affected saying that they had too many donations, a Healing Garden that was built in days, and the millions of dollars raised in hours. My hometown has never made me more proud yet so heartbroken.
It has been a week and my heart is still heavy for my hometown, I still cry each day. I think about the 58 victims each and every day when I am getting ready in the morning and before bed. I am still stuck on my phone looking to see the people who are making Las Vegas beautiful and the memorials for the victims. It is not easy when you are away from the city that made you who you are.
I couldn't be home to help with the Healing Garden, stand in line for hours to donate blood, drive strangers to the hospital, or visit the Vegas Sign to take a moment of silence. It has been the hardest week I have experienced in a long time.
My heart is broken for the victims and so full of love for my city and those who are doing what I can't. Thank you to everyone who has reached out, donated time, donated money, donated blood, sweat, and tears during this hard time. You are amazing and you are in my thoughts each day. Las Vegas is full of life, full of entertainment, and full of love. Locals and visitors have shown that Vegas is a place of love no matter who you are and I am so thankful for that.
I love you Las Vegas. Always.
Sara Boucher is a Robotics and Computer Programming Teacher in Los Lunas, NM who is developing her own set of super geeks.