Monday, April 15, 2013

To My Son, On This Sad and Tragic Day

Dearest Matthew,

You are only 20-months-old and so, for the moment, I am spared the task of having to explain to you that which has no explanation. You played in the park today and enjoyed your chicken fingers and laughed and jumped and didn't know that just 300 miles away people's lives were falling apart. You don't know that a mother will never see her 8-year-old child again or that runners whose legs carried them 26.2 miles no longer have those legs. You don't realize that just five months ago we were out in the streets of Philadelphia cheering on your Uncle Dan as he crossed the finish line like so many today. You haven't asked me why someone would want to hurt marathon runners and spectators who were celebrating such a special achievement.

But, it doesn't stop me from thinking about it. You won't be too young forever. One day you will look me in the eye and you will want to know why someone would hurt innocent people for no reason. You will want to know how to feel safe when people are working overtime to infect our safe spaces with fear and terror.  And what will I tell you? How can I comfort you when I am struggling so much myself to make sense of the world I have brought you into?

The short answer, my dear sweet boy, is that I don't know. I have no magic answers. I have no explanations. You would have figured this out one day, anyway, so I may as well just tell you now: I am just a person, and sometimes the world confuses me, too.

The long answer, though, is that we have no choice. When evil people try and bully us into surrendering our happiness, the only thing we can do is refuse. There are wonderful people who work to protect us and keep us safe and they will continue to try and do so effectively. We will keep going to school and seeing movies and taking trains and cheering on our friends and family as they accomplish their biggest goals. We will make sure to enjoy the good moments as they come. We will try a little harder not to take each other and Daddy and everyone we love for granted.

And most importantly, we will be kind. We will reach out and help others in need whenever we are able to. On days like today, it would be easy for us to focus on the fact that terrible people did a terrible thing. But that's not the whole story.  There are also runners who finished a marathon and kept running to the nearest hospital to donate blood. There are volunteers who ran towards the blasts instead of away from them to help as many people as possible. There are people posting on the internet that they have room in their homes if anyone needs a place to sleep.

It sometimes feels like evil is winning, but it isn't. It can only win if we let it. The good people of our world far outnumber the bad guys. It is our job to be part of the kindness. To keep putting it out there, insisting that we won't go away no matter how much they try to scare us.

It's not a perfect answer. It's not even close to a perfect world. But it's the one we've got, and we have to find a way to live in it. I am going to hug you tight as often as you'll let me and continue to pray that we won't have to have this conversation again.

I love you so very, very much,

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected in Boston. Sending love and support.

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