new normal

My thoughts are all over the place after this week of utter insanity.

I think about the 7 Boston Marathons I’ve watched from the Crate and Barrel store on Boylston Street, where this year the windows were blown out by the blast a few buildings away. The attack happened at the time when the majority of runners were approaching the finish. Not the elite runners, but the everyday folks who run for personal reasons, in pursuit of a goal they may have never achieved before. These are our mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters, cousins, coworkers, neighbors, teachers, and friends. Unlike 9/11, there was no political or economic significance to the time or place. The marathon attack was at a community event, on runners and spectators just like you and me, and the only motive was to create fear, pain, and extreme suffering for this entire city and nation.

I think about this new reality we live in, and are raising our children in, where we are constantly aware of the possibility of an attack by evil people. Evil people aren’t just leaders of other countries with nuclear weapons, they are not just targeting people with money and power. Evil people are hurting our children, and it breaks my heart to think of how many children have been lost all too recently.

I think about what I’ve told my first-grader about this past week. “Some very bad people put bombs in Boston where people were watching the marathon. Yes, it is near where I used to work. Lots of people got hurt, but even more people were helping to rescue them.” And yesterday, “The police want us to stay home today because they are trying to catch the bad man who hurt so many people. It’s okay to be scared, but I will protect you, and we are safe here.”

I say it in a calm, almost matter-of-fact tone so he doesn’t get scared. A tone that tries to makes it seem normal. But I don’t want this to be his normal. I don’t want him to think that bombings and man-hunts and sirens and helicopters flying overhead and lock-downs are normal.

I want him to think that normal is having a picnic at Jamaica Pond, walking to the top of Peter’s Hill with his little brother and dog, meeting up with friends at the playground at Fallon Field, going to school that doesn’t have to close because of a “situation.” This particular situation is over, but, pardon my language, this shit is still fucked up.

I want him to think that normal is watching the runners cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Patriots Day. Will we? I don’t know yet.