My Kids Are Too Young To Know About The Boston Marathon Explosions, But I Wish I Had To Curb My Grief For Them

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Bombing Boston MarathonWhen it comes to senseless acts of violence against masses of innocent people, I’m like a small child. I watch the images of the explosions at the finish line of the historic Boston Marathon over and over and somewhere inside of me it feels like it’s happening with each replay of the digital file. I search my brain trying to understand. I feel personally attacked. The anger and rage builds up and spills out of my eyes with scalding tears. I am glad my children, ages four and two, are too young to know what happened yesterday at the Boston Marathon finish line, but I also wish I had someone to cry with, to discuss it with, and to comfort.

I feel terrible for the parents who have to talk to their children about something that makes absolutely no sense. In reality I’m not sure I would be able to follow any of the rules for discussing tragedy with young kids. But in my head, right now I wish I needed to be strong for my children. I imagine sitting them down and calmly explaining the events that occurred, without embellishment or dramatics. I picture answering their questions as best I can, saying “I don’t know” as appropriate, and giving them extra hugs and cuddles today. But my kids don’t know anything about what happened yesterday so I am shouldering this alone without the benefit of a grief download.

This morning they woke up blissfully ignorant, wanting only to play cars and eat pancakes. I keep the television on in the other room to hear updates as they come and no one asks me to turn it off.  I can cry without them ever seeing. They have no idea the way every siren and helicopter makes me hold my breath. I want to vocalize, “it’s ok,” or “we’re safe,” with every disruption, but I don’t because they don’t know. I wonder if they were aware, would my comforting them make me feel better as well?

I lived in Boston for four years while I attended Boston College. We celebrated Patriot’s Day, the day of the marathon, every year in the capital and heart of Massachusetts. Every year I was taken with what a big deal this day was in the city of Boston. Schools were closed, many people took the day off of work. When asked what you were doing on Marathon Monday, it really just meant where along the race trail you planned to watch.

This year Boston College was involved in a way no one could have imagined. Shortly after the explosion, the marathon route was closed down and hundreds of runners were diverted to St. Ignatius Church on BC’s campus for holding. The community came together around these confused and shocked runners. BC’s emergency medical service volunteers gave out solar blankets, and bystanders lent their phones to runners who warmed up inside the church. According to local reports:

[Boston College] officials worked with on-scene officers from BCPD, BPD, and the Massachusetts State Police, as well as volunteers, to get food and blankets to the runners. Oxygen tanks and water were also being carried into the church, where at least 400 people were receiving medical attention.  We just needed to get them into the church after they stopped running so abruptly.

In times of tragedy, I love to hear about people coming together and helping one another. But today it feels like just a tiny shimmer in a dark cloud of my worst nightmares. One we’ve sat through too many times – Aurora, the Krim murders, Sandy Hook, and now the Boston Marathon – and that’s just in the past nine months. I’ve been sitting on my couch crying wondering how someone can carry out senseless acts of violence against hundreds of innocent people – the young and old, the innocent and the jaded, the participants and bystanders alike – without discrimination.

For their sake, I am truly glad my children are too young to know what is going on right now. I have no intention of telling them what happened yesterday in Boston. Their innocence is perfectly intact and I intend to keep it that way for as long as humanly possible. Even if it means I carry all the sadness and grief about the world I’ve brought them into on my own. Today, it feels like the least I can do.