Last night, my family got home at 8:30 pm after spending six hours in the car ride back home to Boston from NYC due to hellacious traffic. It was a quiet ride, due mostly to the fact my daughter Risa was plugged into the laptop catching up on Nickelodeon TV shows. I was sitting next to my husband, escaping into my book while he drove on. As we finally started approaching Boston, I noticed electronic signs on the highway saying “Boston – we are one” and started feeling a little panicky all over again.
The moment we walked into our house and put down our luggage, Risa asked, “So what happened with the bad guys in Boston, and why did they do something that hurt so many people?” My first thought was, “Seriously?! After we just sat trapped in the car for six hours together? Now is the time you want to bring this up?!” Then I took a deep breath, sat down with her, and started to answer her questions, trying to remember what the experts suggested in articles all over Facebook. I vaguely recalled the suggestion of keeping it simple and focusing on the bad guys being caught and all the amazing teams of people in Boston keeping us safe. I could not remember the proper response to, “Why would someone do this?” It’s certainly MY question. And later in bed, I realized that it made total sense that returning to Boston would be the trigger for Risa to start asking these questions.
My childhood friend who lives in Boston called this morning to check in and admit that it’s getting emotionally harder and not easier with each passing day. I agree. The “bad guys” have been caught and there is certainly relief in knowing these brothers are not out there somewhere with explosives trying to hurt more people. There is also tremendous pride for many of us in the fact that Boston citizens did exactly what they were asked to do – asked – and stayed put in their homes so the police and FBI could do their job methodically, which they did with excellence. We also raised many millions of dollars (along with others outside of Boston) in less than 24 hours for the victims of the bombings. After so many years of complaining about this city's brutal winters, I feel a protective and fierce love for Boston that kind of floors me, to be honest.
Let’s not expect ourselves to move on without taking the time to let ourselves heal little by little. Let’s help each other by asking, “Just checking in – how are you doing?”
But this is not over for many of us. We have questions—weighty, possibly unanswerable questions. This isn’t a political event to us; it was a deeply personal blow and enormous violation. (It is obviously much more than that for those physically injured and killed by the explosions and their loved ones.)
This past week is not something that got resolved and wrapped up with a tidy bow. We are going to need time to process this, and it is essential that we keep the conversation flowing. We need to keep asking one another how we are doing rather than trying too quickly to get back to normal. I’m not just talking about with our children, but with our adult friends and family members. Some may not want to talk about it anymore; that's fine.They can let you know that; at least you asked.
When I reached out to a friend of mine who is a clergy member – who has been a beacon of strength and wisdom for many of us locals– and asked him how he is doing, he told me he was feeling overwhelmed and not faring well. He needs to talk through his own fears in addition to providing comfort to us; he is human.
So let’s not expect ourselves to move on without taking the time to let ourselves heal little by little. Let’s help each other by asking, “Just checking in – how are you doing?” Let's be extra thoughtful. (I am deeply indebted to my Bostonian friend Pam who left a little gift for me yesterday at my doorstep so I'd have something nice to see when I got home.) I have so much gratitude to friends and family inside and outside of Boston who keep reaching out in spite of the fact that there are no perfect words to say. We will each have our own time frame for moving through this; use whatever time you need. No pressure.
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
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