Like so many others, I spent my afternoon riveted to CNN, hoping to hear that maybe the bombings in Boston weren’t as bad as everyone first thought. Instead, the opposite happened. Right before 5:00, I refreshed the website and learned that an 8-year old child was one of the two fatalities, and my heart just sank. Tears came to my eyes, and I couldn’t stop myself from imagining what had brought that precious little boy to Boston this morning. Was his mom or dad among the runners, and was he waiting impatiently to watch him or her cross the finish line – craning his little neck to see over all the adults, screaming his heart out with excitement and 8-year old joy? Had he painted a sign to congratulate his sister or his nanny or his teacher? Was he just starting out as a runner, and did his parents plan this special field trip to watch one of the most prestigious marathon events in the country? Or did he just happen to be there – wrong place and a very wrong time?
I reacted similarly to the shooting in Connecticut. I remember talking to my mom on the phone that night, and just sobbing as we talked about it. Parents send their children to school every day. EVERY day. They dress them and feed them breakfast and pack their lunches, and put them on a bus or drive them to drop-off, and leave them in the capable hands of teachers to learn and laugh and play. Going to school is an unavoidable part of most children’s day, and we don’t think of it as being a dangerous or risky place to be. That day, like today, began normally and happily. And ended in terror, trauma, astonishing heartbreak, and death.
I notice that days like today have a universally uniting effect, as they should. People come together, offering words of sympathy and comfort to the victims and their families, and for a moment, we forget that we spend the majority of our time fighting over really stupid things. For a few days, we look past the politics and our private agendas, and we remember that we’re all people, that we all grieve our losses the same way. We cry out of genuine concern for complete strangers, and we pray for them to live, to recover, to somehow move past what has happened to them. For a few days – maybe a few weeks at best – we are the best iteration of ourselves. How great would this country be – how great would the world be – if we could retain our sense of perspective without having to re-experience traumatic loss and be reminded of it? Why does empathy need to be rebooted?
The short answer, of course, is that I don’t know. But I’m reminded all over again of why MISS is necessary, and will continue to be necessary, so long as children are lost tragically and senselessly, and so long as their parents have to continue trying to recover from that.
(Yep, you can still donate to MISS's Kindness Walk, and help to ensure that whenever a senseless act of evil happens, MISS can be there to offer comfort and support for the parents left behind. Here's the link: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/AlaneBreland/missfoundationkindnesswalkandsafetyfair.)