Too many images in my head today. I’m trying to obliterate the ones being played over and over on the television. Last night I fitfully tossed and turned as scenarios raced through my mind. What if? Always the great unknown.
Yesterday at 9 PM I turned off everything: the lights, the computer, the TV. I charged the Smartphone and sat silently in the dark. Dave was fast asleep hugging the youngest and the older boys were snug as bugs in their beds. Just as with 9/11 I’ll remember what I was doing when I discovered the news. My sister-in-law had been texting me from Las Vegas; enjoying her vacation with her husband. Piles of paperwork littered the desk and the phones rang incessantly; busy-work. I quickly glanced at my phone, at lunchtime, as she texted about two explosions on the jumbotrons in Vegas and I quickly turned on the TV in the conference room; dumbstruck.
An hour later as I stood in line, in a very crowded bank, I heard various people on their mobile phones talking in different languages. The guy in front of me was speaking Spanish, the woman; two people behind, Korean. The only things I understood were bomb and Boston marathon. We were unsettled. The gruesome pictures on the screen were tough to bear and when word came of the death of an 8 y/o boy I thought of my Charlie; gone. I was surprised to see tears in a few people’s eyes. Normally I would be frustrated to be standing in a crowded bank line but as I looked around me I felt the collective pulse of humanity. We were from various cultural and social backgrounds but, as human beings, we had the capacity to empathize; to feel.
There are so many variables in this life. We are programmed to believe that if we do what we’re supposed to and follow the rules/guidelines/templates that we can create something better. But how do you explain the non-smoking runner who dies of lung cancer; the 23 y/o woman who endures a hysterectomy, the innocent kids who die for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? It all seems so pointless and as I tossed and turned I thought to myself, why do we keep trying? We all eventually go to the grave anyway.
This sentiment does not help me during this period of transition. I thought of the path that life is currently taking me; the pros, the cons. I struggled to breathe and wondered if I was having a panic attack. I walked the hallway to my sons’ rooms; looking in and wishing I could keep them safe with me forever. Tears silently fell as I watched their chests rise and fall; an occasional snore sneaking from them. I was too keyed to sleep. This morning I rapidly fired questions at my boys: What do you do if you are in an earthquake? A fire? If a gunman walks on campus at school? If someone accosts you on your walk home?
My sons are very attuned to my moods so when my eldest called me, as he walked from his junior high to the younger brothers’ elementary school, he asked me what was wrong. He must’ve heard it in my voice. And so I told him; the marathon, the bombs; please be vigilant. My older sons have run progressive marathons and understand: the excitement, the sense of accomplishment and the crowds of families and friends as they complete their race. Much as I’d like to shelter my boys from the unpleasantness of life I know that I would rather be the one to dispense and explain the ugly; vs. hearing things from someone/somewhere else. Life is, surely, not a bed of roses.
How to cope? I awoke with a heaviness to my shoulders; sluggish and robotic. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping, praying, that there is something more than this ugly. I’m not seeing any beauty today; the world is black and white with muted grays.