His brother was at the Istanbul airport during an attack. Here's what it made him realize about hope.

This man's story is becoming all too familiar.

Three little dots.

Today I prayed for three little dots. Today I begged for three little dots. Today my future depended on three little dots.

Today, while at lunch with coworkers celebrating a birthday, I got a text from my brother: "Something's happening at the airport. I love you guys."


At first I didn’t think twice of it, but then I quickly grabbed my phone.

“What do you mean?” I responded.

I waited for those three little dots to show that he was responding. Nothing.

My heart began to race. I jumped on Twitter and searched "Istanbul." The first tweet that came up read, "Two explosions reported at Istanbul airport."

I went numb.

72 hours earlier, I had dropped off my brother and his girlfriend, Kristine, at the Burbank Airport for the start of a European vacation they’d been looking forward to for months.

Photo by Noah Reich, used with permission.

Kristine had just graduated from nursing school at UCLA, and my brother had just finished the TV show he was working on. The timing could not have been more perfect for this trip, other than that they were embarking on a two-week adventure with no Wi-Fi on the night of the "Game of Thrones" finale.

"We landed in Turkey. Long flight but I slept through most of it. We’re going to stay in the lounge tonight and explore the city tomorrow." — Brother

"You best rest up and watch GoT while you have that Wi-Fi." — Me

A few minutes later, my brother texted my mom and me a photo of a guy sitting in front of his laptop that had a ship on it.

"This dude is watching last week’s episode." — Brother

"Well maybe he’ll go right into yesterday’s episode." — Mom

A couple hours had passed. My phone dinged.

"Well, I took mom’s advice and watched the next episode with him. He’s a Russian dude that didn’t speak a lick of English so he had Russian subtitles on. We didn’t share a language but after each crazy development we shared a universal gasp and tsk tsk tsk type response. Lol" — Brother

On my eighth birthday, my brother and I were robbed at knifepoint for a pair of Air Jordans.

My brother chased after the thief and ended up getting hit by a car that had jumped a light. That feeling of seeing my brother lying in the middle of a busy intersection motionless has haunted me through my entire life. That day, I was robbed of a pair of shoes and my innocence.

Three years later, the Columbine shooting took place. I was 10 years old. My brother and I would walk to school, and he would drop me off at the entrance of my elementary school while he proceeded to his middle school several blocks away. Every day, I’d fear that a scene like Columbine would take place at his school. Each day at 3:30 p.m., a wave of relief would overtake me when he arrived to pick me up.

That anxiety that was planted decades ago has been watered time and time again from 9/11 to the police shootings earlier this month.

Through my life, I have had to give credence to the quiet whisper that arises from my guts asking whether it’s safe to go to a movie theater, a concert, or a restaurant.

In the past few months, there have been shootings at two places I consider home — my alma mater (UCLA) and a gay club. When it comes to not feeling safe, I have enough fuel to keep me going for the rest of my life ... and that was before today.

As I waited to hear back from my brother, I frantically paced back and forth down Ventura Boulevard.

I thought of the frantic text messages that Mina Justice received from her son Eddie on the night of the Pulse nightclub shooting. I thought of the fear that was going through my brother and Kristine at the airport hearing active gunshots and the windows of the lounge being shattered by an explosion.

I thought of the phone call that I was going to have to make to my mom informing her of everything. I thought of that 8-year-old boy standing in the middle of the intersection years ago having to imagine what life was going to be like without his best friend.

And then, there they were: three little dots.

"We heard gunshots and an explosion. We’re in someone’s room at the hotel hiding. I’ll keep you posted as best I can." — Brother

My brother and Kristine escaped from the airport lounge they were hiding in by crawling from cover to cover over shattered glass. They made their way to an adjoining hotel where they knocked on doors until someone opened one. It was a couple from Spain who were there celebrating their honeymoon. After several hours, they were evacuated from the airport crossing over more shattered glass, dried blood, and the sound of sirens wailing.

I’m thankful that my brother and Kristine are OK, but my heart breaks for the hundreds of families who were not as lucky today. It terrifies me to have to imagine what it was like at that terminal, and it sends shivers down my spine knowing how lucky Adam and Kristine were.

I’m sick and tired of being afraid.

I don’t want to live in a world where I question my safety at each turn and the intentions of those around me. I don’t want to live in a world of Brexit and Donald Trump, where fear is a motivating factor for how we live our lives.

I want to live in a world where a random Russian guy who doesn’t speak English will scoot over and let you sit next to him to watch the "Game of Thrones" finale. I want to live in a world where a couple from Spain on their honeymoon will open their door for you amidst a terrorist attack and provide you with shelter.

Despite everything that’s occurred today, that is the world that I believe we live in.

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A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

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In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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