Five Certainties Following the Boston Marathon Bombings
Every time tragedy strikes nationally or around the world, my heart tightens and my eyes leak. But there is something different and deeply painful when crisis culminates in your backyard. I'm not being dramatic when I say that Boston runs through my blood. I was born here (at Brigham and Women's, when it used to be the Boston Lying-In Hospital). I have spent the better part of my 39 years here. My babies were born here. Boston is my home. When the explosions erupted at the Boston Marathon yesterday, I was a flood of emotions.
In fact, I wasn't sure I could write about it here. My first inclination was to roundup the resources I was sharing on Twitter (resource oriented writer that I am). But as the day unfolded, and as I worked through this tragedy on my own and with Laurel, it became clear that there was something different to share. And then this morning as I ran home after dropping Violet off at day care, a small bunny darted out in front of me and uncharacteristically trotted along with me for a block before (more characteristically) darting for cover. I took this interaction as a sign that it was time to be a brave -- not fearful -- bunny. So today, I wanted to share five things of which I am now certain following the Boston Marathon bombings:
1. Be the first to break the news. I know some parents will disagree with me on this one. However, particularly if you have school aged children, I believe that it's better that kids hear the news from you first, not from friends on the school yard, or the town emergency robo call, or from a TV or radio broadcast. Yes, it is hard to have these conversations (see Jane's recent post for helpful tips) and yes, it will impact your kids (Laurel spent the night in our bed...) but it's good for everyone if tough conversations start at home. Limit the details and keep the conversation age appropriate; you'll send the message that your kids can trust you to answer their questions and help them through hard times.
2. Limit media consumption...for everyone. The reality of any tragedy is that it takes time for details to unfold. Also, it goes without saying that kids need not be privy to gruesome details. Turn the TV off while they are around. I spent most of my afternoon work hours yesterday on Twitter, sharing resources and information, and of course Jon and I were stunned and consumed by the news. But once I clocked out for the day, we stowed our phones and focused on the kids. It was good for everyone. And by the time we returned to news sources later in the evening after the kids were in bed, nothing had changed.
3. Share stories of bravery and compassion. I was moved to tears by the many stories of bravery and compassion; of first responders immediately running toward the explosions, of marathon runners crossing the finish line then running to hospitals to donate blood, of the generous people of Boston opening their homes to displaced runners. We shared these stories to Laurel; it helped her see the incredible good that can bubble up in the face of tragedy.
4. Don't let fear drive the bus. Be vigilant? Yes. Be mindful of directives by public officials? Yes. But don't let fear drive the bus. That's what people who ignite these types of catastrophes want us to do. I won't sugar coat it; one of Laurel's first comments was that she was scared that the explosions happened a 10 minute ride from our home and she didn't want any of us to go outside. We've been talking to her about how, in the grand scheme of things, these occurrences are very unlikely and how we can't live our lives being afraid. We'll be carrying on vigilantly, but supporting our city in all the ways we usually do moving forward.
5. Hang tight to the positive -- and let go of the negative -- mojo. Yesterday I was overwhelmed by and grateful for the outpouring of calls, tweets, e-mails, and texts from loved ones. And I regret that I let one pesky e-mail (from someone I don't even know, criticizing me for being anti-prayer in my public comments about the tragedy...which, by the way, is not the case) occupy considerable bandwidth. I realized that everyone has their own issues and trigger points when things like this happen, so I let go of it and am hanging tight to the incredible positive mojo that is out there.
I am holding everyone affected by this tragedy in my heart and doing my best to redirect my sadness into peaceful and healing energy for our beautiful and resilient city.
With love and gratitude, Christine