On the afternoon of 9/11, Frank perched on the edge of the couch in his Army fatigues, having been called in to report on base. Burning rubble and replays of explosions were on the screen, but the television isn’t what Frank was watching. At his feet, asleep in their carriers were the twins, just a week shy of three months old.
He couldn’t take his eyes from them. Neither could I.
We didn’t of speak what we were feeling–not in that moment, at least–because in the immediacy of the unfolding tragedy, it wasn’t about us. Later though, in the quiet of the night, the guilt in the space between us was almost palpable between our clasped hands: into what kind of a world did we bring our kids? How could we someday explain this and expect them not to fear waking up and just living? 9/11 was the ice down our spines that chilled us to the crystalline reality that it was impossible to keep them safe from everything. How could I have created them, my babies, when I am powerless to protect them from those who seek to destroy?
Just hours after the Boston Marathon Bombings, I’ve seen similar questions and statements of all-encompassing fear expressed by others across social media. I saw them after Newtown. After senseless tragedies like these, those queries hang like cold, leaden weights and they are heavy in our stomachs and hearts.
Tonight I am weighted by sadness, but I no longer ask such questions. I mourn the losses and grieve the destruction, but what was destroyed is never where the tragedies end, so that can’t be where my feelings end. When things all apart, I seek to find and grasp onto that which was not broken.
Because whatever the points are behind these senseless acts of violence? They never get made. If anything, these “destroyers” lead us to reinforce all that they seek to destroy: kindness, selflessness, and humanity.
They see the cracks and aim their bullets and detonate their bombs in these gaps that separate the differences between us. What they fail to realize, though, is that these cracks are not vulnerabilities; they are the opportunities we take to stretch across the elastic distance. We pull tighter together. If we run, it is into the danger to help others. If we cry, it is because we wish we could do more and not because we could do nothing.
And if we stand up, dust ourselves off, and begin to laugh and live life again, it’s not because we’ve forgotten, have grown apathetic, or because we are foolish enough to think there won’t be a next time.
I don’t question, or feel guilt, or live in fear.
I go to my kids’ soccer games and celebrate even when they lose the championship game.
Because despite the losses, we pull together. And because of that, we always win.
My thoughts and prayers are with Boston.