I was 12.
The image I saw play over and over on tv that morning is burned into my brain.
I remember thinking about it for days, weeks even. I may have obsessed over it a little bit, watching all the tv specials and reading all the magazine articles about the astronauts aboard, about o-rings and solid rocket boosters and about a million other things that I couldn't really understand, but felt like it was my duty to KNOW. But then time passed, and life went on.
When I was 16, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm, and for the first time in my generation, our country was officially at war. I remember wondering "Well, what do we do now?" I was supposed to go on a date with my boyfriend later that day, my sister and I had planned a weekend shopping trip, but I didn't know if those things were... appropriate now that my country was at war. Does life go on when unspeakable things are happening so close to home? I learned pretty quickly, of course it does. Of course life goes on.
I was an adult, at work when I heard the first news about 9-11. A bookseller rushed in right before opening time, insisting that we all turn on the tv in the break room so we could watch it unfold. I was super responsible, and this bookseller was prone to grand exaggeration, so I ignored her pleas. It wasn't until I opened the store and NO ONE came in, no one for hours, that I finally gave in to the fact that this was a big deal and let the staff catch up on the news. I remember thinking, "Well, what now?" Do I let staff members leave? Keep going on business as usual? This was a big deal of a thing, and I didn't know how to respond to it. But I tried to keep it to business as usual, as much as possible anyway, because life goes on. Of course it does.
When hurricane Katrina hit and the reports started rolling in, I was pregnant with Zachary. I laid in bed for days, literally unable to move away from watching all the stories unfold about acts of bravery, lives lost, and unspeakable horrors that people so close to my home were experiencing. I wondered at the insanity of bringing a child into a world where these things were happening. I watched as the news stories slowly transitioned to what seemed to be PR pieces, and the thought of Harry Connick, Jr. in a rowboat pretending to "rescue" people while his camera crew trailed along filming it still makes me want to search him out and punch him in the photo op. Then eventually, I dragged myself out of bed and got on with the business of living my life and getting ready to have a kid. It's just life. And it goes on.
Since then there have been tragedies on top of tragedies. Bombings, school shootings, it's all become so... commonplace. The Newtown school shooting left me reeling for weeks, but I pulled it together and did all the things I was supposed to be doing, because life just keeps going.
In recent years, I've been turning to social media more and more to get my information, and the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday was no exception. My first inkling that there was something going on came via this tweet from Runner's World Magazine:
And honestly, it didn't really register much at first. Stuff seems to blow up every day. There's always an emergency or a tragedy or an... event of sorts that everyone gets all excited about for about a minute, then we never hear about it again.
But within a few minutes, I could tell this was one of the real ones. My Twitter stream, then my Facebook page started to fill up with information about what was happening in Boston. I love that social media has made it so easy to get information, often directly from people who are living it, right in the moment. I hate all the rampant speculation that accompanies it, though.
As a runner myself who hopes to someday run a marathon, this tragedy hit me hard. I kept reading about runners who, on what should be the proudest moment of their lives, were instead scared, confused, hurt and bleeding. At least three people have lost their lives.
As later reports came in, the words "devastating lower leg injuries" and "amputations" were being thrown about, and for a group of elite runners who have spent years training their bodies to run and endure, this seems a particularly cruel and tragic outcome.
My Twitter feed and Facebook page have slowly transitioned from actual news reports to quotes from Mr. Rogers, Gandhi, Jesus and more about forgiveness, and about seeing the good in people in times of adversity, and about coming together as a country. The topics #runforboston and #raceshirt are trending on Twitter right now, encouraging the world to go on a run in honor of those injured and to wear a race shirt today to show support.
These things may be helpful to others in dealing with this. We all deal with things differently.
But right now, as I sit here typing away, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel. Anger at the evil people in the world who use violence as a tool - definitely. Sadness for those who are dead or injured - certainly. Confusion about why these horrible things keep happening - no doubt.
But as much as I want to sit and read about what's happening and obsess over it some more, the laundry still needs to be done. Two little boys still need attention and tickles and love. Dinner still has to be cooked. Life keeps going.
Of course it does.
But I still don't know how I'm supposed to feel about it.