In the Wake of Boston

Sunset, Na'Pali coast cruise, April 2013
Sunset, Na’Pali coast cruise, April 2013

“I was thinking of you, so I thought I’d call.” It was my dog’s breeder, calling out of the blue.

“Oh, that’s sweet,” I said. I couldn’t imagine why she might be thinking of me, but she is sweet like that, so I went with it.

“You know, with this whole Boston thing.”

“Oh. Right.”

I was on a plane to Hawaii when the bombing happened, so other than a few headlines from the kid’s iPhones, we weren’t caught up in the media tornado. Honestly, what I thought was, thank goodness only 3 people died. But of course, it’s not just the people who died, so many lives are changed forever.

Another friend wondered why this tragedy took on such importance. “So many people are shot every day and we don’t hear anything about them.” I remember wondering the same thing after 9/11, thinking, my husband’s dead, just like so many other people who die every day. I couldn’t see what he came to represent in other people’s minds.

Fear.

What if it happened to me?

Fear drives the media. Fear sells. We feed on fear. In my class today, I talked about the root of anger being fear, instructing my students to stop for a moment if they find themselves shutting down in anger and really look deep to find the fear cowering underneath. Fear is why the Boston bombing and 9/11 take over our lives. Another moment where we have to face our fear of dying.

People may wonder what goes through my mind when these things happen, do I re-live the trauma? It’s a hard question to answer. What I go through is thinking about the ripple effect of lives changed forever. Like any parent, I am more deeply affected when children my own children’s ages are involved, because I do fear anything happening to my children. But for myself, I have become inured to death, which in turn has made me grateful for life. I don’t fear death the way I once did. Maybe it has to do with a misguided faith on my part that I might meet Arron again.

What I do focus on are the loved ones having to wake up alone in a too-big bed because I am reminded of that long, long journey that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Such trauma is a very long road to heal. As difficult as it is to remember those days, it reminds me how far I have come. Which in turn leads me to imagine the amazing things those people will wind up doing with their grief. Will they become activists? write a book? start a support group? Be one of those people who “just get it?”

Boston was far away as I was pounded with waves on a sunset cruise of the Na’Pali coast and for once, wasn’t one of the barfers (thank you Dramamine). Three whales swam within two feet of the boat. I watched my kids and my boyfriend laugh as they were sprayed with sea water, backdropped by an impossible vista of grass-flocked peaks, and I laughed too, enraptured with life.

But I appreciate the thoughts and phone calls, always.

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1 Comment

  1. Leslie Allan May 9, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Abby, I too think about that ripple effect when something tragic happens. I feel such an ache for the loneliness that the survivor will endure. Any survivor, I don’t even have to know them. I remember the loneliness well, then feel sad for the road that lies ahead of them. But then, I wonder how it will change them. Will they sink or float?? Fall into despair or blossom once the grief lifts…I secretly feel like a cheerleader for option 2, I can’t help myself! I wondered if I was the only one who thought this. Guess not 🙂 Nice to see you smiling above. Leslie

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