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Life is Precious and Fragile.

“How the Shooting in Fort Lauderdale Airport creates a Lesson in Living in the NOW”

By Marisa Rivera

It was January 6, 2017, and I happened to be at the Fort Lauderdale Airport during the shooting that killed five people and wounded eight. Fortunately, I was on a different terminal of the airport, but the whole experience was life changing. It reminded me of how precious and fragile life is and how important it is to live in the NOW.

Myself and several passengers could see police and fire fighter’s racing from the window. We did not know what was going on until the TV screens shared the news. I was concerned and extremely sadden by the news of the innocent victims, but I felt relieved because we heard that they had captured the shooter. The airport was unusually quiet, and became paralyzed for about half an hour until they allowed passengers to go through TSA again and on to the gates.

I decided to sit at the nearby restaurant and wait for the next flight. Just a few minutes passed when a stampede of people ran and screamed “run, run, run”. Everyone seeked cover and hiding. I ran into the restaurant kitchen where I was eating with many others and ducked for a few minutes.

Chaos was everywhere. People were scared, screaming, crying and running. Someone yelled, “There is another shooter!” In the rush of running, I realized that I had left my belongings at the restaurant and so did everyone else. The “responsible me” decided to go back to the restaurant to get my belongings. As I walked back into an empty restaurant I heard several loud noises which I assumed where more shots. I panicked.

I grabbed my things and ran back into the crowded kitchen and asked one of the restaurant workers if there was an exit door nearby. There was, but it led to the runway. I quickly said, “let’s get out of here, even if it is into the runway.” My heart was pounding. I thought in a flash about my children and grandchildren, my brothers and sister, all my beloved friends and about the thought of maybe not making it after today. In a second, your life flashes and you realize, how fragile life is.

As soon as the employee opened the door to the runway, we all raced out. As I walked into the runway I saw all the airplanes, luggage carts, people, some crying, some completely stunned, people in wheel chairs, student groups, families with children, construction workers, and employees. We were all trying to figure out what the next move might be.

I decided to walk as far away from the terminals towards the middle of the runway in case we all had to run from another shooter. Fully armed Police where stopping us from leaving the premises and asked us to raise our hands up, walk in single line and touched us to make sure none of us were carrying a weapon. I realized that we were not only victims of a violent crime, but at that chaotic moment, we were all suspects as well.

The further I walked away from the terminal building, the calmer I felt. In my thoughts and in my heart, I was carrying all my beloved family and all my good friends who immediately texted me to check if I was OK. It took six hours before we were allowed to leave.

Let’s remember to change our attitude and live each day as it was our last. Express your love to your loved ones every day even more, don’t sweat the small stuff and be kind to others. Make sure you live life in the urgency of the NOW and make every moment count because life is precious and fragile!

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