The biggest thing that happened this week was obviously the Boston tragedy. I can not wrap my brain around this type of evil. I am sure that many of us just wanted to hold our loved ones a little tighter than we normally do. I know I held my babies tighter and longer when I put them to bed on Tuesday night. I didn’t know about terrorism until I was 19 when 9/11 happened. My children will grow up with this and I fear that it will get worse. This means I need to start preparing myself to talk to them about REAL things. Bad things. I don’t want them to hear about tragedies through their friends. I only ever really worried about talking to my kids about sex. Talking to my children about someone killing an innocent person is going to be so much more difficult. Do I keep them in a bubble and home school them? Can I shut off the cell phones, computers, internet and TV so I can shelter my little babies from the world? No, we can’t do that. If I do, the bad guys win.
How do we talk to our children about tragedy? Sure, we can cry and hold them tighter. It’s ok for them to see our emotion, but we also need to keep our emotions in check. We are the barometer in the home. Obviously different children will be able to handle a different amount of information depending on their age and personality. If we don’t talk to them though they will get this information somewhere else. The key is to be calm and be as direct as possible when explaining what has happened. If our kids come home with the wrong information, we, as parents, need to correct false information as gently as possible. To keep our children from feeling insecure about the world around them, we need to remind them that there is so much good in the world. And we need to continue with our normal, everyday routines and never forget how precious life is.
I have a 2.5 year old and there is only so much I can tell her because she just doesn’t get it. I tried explaining to her that there are some mean people in the world, but we are going to choose to focus on the good ones. The heroes. Instead of going into details I took a different approach. I printed out business sized “acts of kindness” cards for the victims and heroes in Boston. I took my kids to a nearby shopping center and we handed out a flower and a card to each person we saw. I was worried that people would think we were trying to sell something, but only one person asked if we were taking up a collection. When I said no the lady was shocked. Shocked from an act of kindness! She read the card, accepted the flower and said “This made my day. This is so sweet”. A man from Boston received the card, told us he is from Boston and got teary eyed. My friend and I just stood their quietly as he stood by the trashcan silently. We didn’t really know what to say, but we knew he appreciated what we were doing. I really couldn’t believe the response. It was so….positive. A few passerby’s even offered hugs. It was honestly an amazing experience and I encourage each of you to go out and do something nice. That something nice can simply be lighting a candle in private in honor of someone, buying a stranger their lunch or drink at a drive-thru. You could even pay for the car behind you at a toll road, or just help someone load groceries into their car. Maybe you’ll start a chain reaction and people will start paying it forward. It’s so easy to be kind and not only will you make someone else’s day, YOU will have a better day.
Looking at the graphic photos online and on TV upset me, but it also made me realize how awesome our country is. A man carrying a girl he has never met in his life., strangers taking clothes off to hold them over injured people, a surgeon finishing the race and continuing to run to his operating room to help the victims, exhausted runners rushing to the hospital to give blood. That is America. When tragedy strikes, what do we as a country do? We rise up and come together. We can mourn the loss of those that died and hurt for the parents and loved ones that lost their children, but lets also celebrate them. Even in tragedy, we need to give thanks. It is so hard during a dark hour, but there are still things to be grateful for.
Governor Deval Patrick gave a beautiful speech at the interfaith memorial service. He couldn’t have said it better, so below is his text. It’s long, but I promise that it is worth the read!
In my faith tradition, scripture teaches: “In every thing give thanks.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) That isn’t always easy to do. On Monday afternoon, I wasn’t feeling it. What I felt, what so many of us felt then, was shock and confusion and anger.
But the nature of faith, I think, is learning to return to the lessons even when they don’t make sense, when they defy logic. And as I returned to those lessons this week, I found a few things to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for the firefighters and police officers and EMTs who ran towards the blasts, not knowing whether the attack was over – and the volunteers and other civilians who ran to help right along side them.
I’m thankful for the medical professionals — from the doctors and trauma nurses to the housekeeping staff, to the surgeon who finished the marathon and kept on running to his operating room — all of whom performed at their very best.
I’m thankful for the agents from the FBI and the ATF, for the officers from the State Police and Boston PD, for the soldiers from the National Guard and all the other law enforcement personnel who both restored order and started the methodical work of piecing together what happened and who’s responsible.
I’m thankful for Mayor Menino, who started Monday morning frustrated he couldn’t be at the finish line this time, as he always is, and then late that afternoon checked himself out of the hospital to help his city, our city, face down this tragedy.
I’m thankful for those who have givenblood to the hospitals, money to the OneFund, and prayers and messages of consolation and encouragement from all over the world.
I’m thankful for the presence and steadfast support of the President and the First Lady, our former governors, the civic and political leaders who are here today, and for the many, many faith leaders who have ministered to us today and in the days since Monday.
I’m thankful for the lives of Krystle and Lingzi and little Martin, and for the lives of the families who survive them, and for the lives of all the people hurt but who still woke up today with the hope of tomorrow.
And I am thankful, maybe most especially, for the countless numbers of people in this proud City and this storied Commonwealth who, in the aftermath of such senseless violence, let their first instinct be kindness. In a dark hour, so many of you showed so many of us that “darkness cannot drive out darkness,” as Dr. (Martin Luther) King said. “Only light can do that.”
How very strange that the cowardice unleashed on us should come on Marathon day, on Patriots’ Day, a day that marks both the unofficial end of our long winter hibernation and the first battle of the American Revolution. And just as we are taught at times like this not to lose touchwith our spiritual faith, let us also not lose touch with our civic faith.
Massachusetts invented America. And America is not organized the way countries are usually organized. We are not organized around a common language or religion or even culture. We are organized around a handful of civic ideals. And we have defined those ideals, through time and through struggle, as equality, opportunity, freedom and fair play.
An attack on a civic ritual like the Marathon, especially on Patriots’ Day, is an attack on those values. And just as we cannot permit darkness and hate to triumph over our spiritual faith, so we must not permit darkness and hateto triumph over our civic faith. That cannot happen. And it will not.
So, we will recover and repair. We will grieve our losses and heal. We will rise, and we will endure. We will have accountability, without vengeance. Vigilance, without fear.And we will remember, I hope and pray, long after the buzz of Boylston Street is back and the media has turned its attention elsewhere, that the grace this tragedy exposed is the best of who we are.
Fellow citizens, I am honored and humbled to welcome our friend, our leader, and our commander in chief, the President of the United States.”
Remember, one act of kindness or a simple smile can brighten someones day. It may even save a life.