I know that I’m seriously the last person in the world who should be serious about any topic. Your neighbor down the street probably has more poignant words for you. Hell, any time I write a story, characters have to say “I don’t know what to tell you” when a tragedy occurs, because I don’t know what they should be saying. That being said, I am having severe trouble dealing with all of this Boston news, and if I’ve learned anything in twenty years, putting things down in words means organizing them in my head first, so that’s what I’m going to do.
When I was young, my grandmother and dog died within the same week in late October. I received the news, neither of which were very surprising, and filed it away inside. Later, I went trick-or-treating with my brother, who was home from Chicago because of my grandmother’s death. That Halloween night is one of my favorite childhood memories. Several days later, lying in bed, the full weight of their deaths hit me, and I busted into my parent’s bedroom, bawling my eyes out. It was the first time I had shed any tears over either of the deaths, and it took me almost a full week to do so.
I was in fourth grade during 9/11. I was told by a friend of mine (I still remember exactly who it was and where in the school he told me), that the Philippines had run a plane into the World Trade Towers. I did not know what the World Trade Towers were. I remember the awkward moment of trying to cover up my ignorance on the issue by explaining that it was no trouble, we’d simply nuke their entire island. I went through the rest of the day, surrounded by stunned adults. My mother took me and my older brother to a gas station, and I remember them discussing how it felt like something out of a Tom Clancy novel while I walked silently behind them, not even coming close to grasping the events. You can’t blame me, I was only nine years old, how does a kid deal with that?
You can blame me, however, that when I heard about the Aurora shootings of this last summer, I felt a momentary sting of sadness for the victims as I read Twitter, but I quickly got into a car and continued my vacation, filing away the event as a piece of information. I remember watching TV in a McDonalds, waiting for my breakfast food, and shaking my head and wondered who would do such a thing. But then, again, we packed up, and got back in the car, and I went right back to reading a book.
I don’t even remember where I was when I heard about Newtown. It’s just something that at some point, I found out about. As a future teacher, I worried, but beyond “Who would do such a thing,” I spared few thoughts on the matter. Once again, I simply filed away all news into my brain, cataloguing and recording what had happened. I got mad at people trying to begin conspiracy theories about the whole thing, chastised those that made jokes a little too harsh and too soon, but I felt little to nothing about it. I’m not a good person.
But for the first time in my life, hearing about a tragedy, the entire thing hit me at once, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve written about 600 words by this point, and it’s taken me half an hour because I keep staring off into space. A load of laundry, half folded, sits at the foot of my bed. I gave up. How am I supposed to fold socks when parts of Boston are on fire? When I woke up this morning, my biggest hurdle of the day was finishing a stupid paper on the Presidents. Right now, it’s unlikely I’ll get to that. I’m glad I don’t have to work, I wouldn’t be a very good server in this state.
Through all this, it’s important to remember a couple things. There are people who are much braver and better people than me that are helping, professional and volunteer alike. I saw a series of pictures from unrelated photographers that show the same man in a black cowboy hat transporting several injured people away from the site. He’s just a person, and he’s doing his best to help. I don’t know who (if anyone) did this, but I know that they’re nothing compared to the tidal wave of those that will come to the victims’ aid. I know that the world has recovered from more and grown from it. It’s tough to remember at a time like this, but I know that the world is better and safer now than at any other time in its history. We’ll get through this, even if it just means finishing folding the laundry.
I’ll go back to fart jokes sometime soon, I promise.