Over and Over

When the explosions in Boston happened, I was in Lowell, walking by the Merrimack river, pushing Henrietta in her stroller. Sam was back at the house, writing. It was sunny today, a sweet sixty degrees, and the water was calm. Pairs of birds flew low on the water, then arched back up into the sky. I felt happy as I walked, calm and content and grateful.

Henrietta enjoyed the walk out but got sleepy on our return. The wind picked up, so I alternated between hurrying to the car and stopping to help her relax, and by the time we got back she was sleeping. I sat on a bench to let her sleep for a minute before putting her back in her carseat, and happened to check Facebook on my phone. My friends in Boston were posting notices they were safe. I didn't know what they meant. I typed "Boston" into Google, and one of the auto-fill options was "Boston explosions" and I followed the link and then I knew. I put the baby back in the car, turned the radio on, and cried on my way home. I sat in the driveway, letting her sleep longer, listening to the radio, listening and listening.

We used to live near the marathon route, and we've been to watch in previous years, though never near the finish. I used to work a few blocks from where it happened, used to walk down to Copley Square on nice days, used to catch the bus home every day from the corner across from the library. I kept imagining if we'd gone to see the runners, imagined holding Henrietta in my arms, imagined terrible things beyond that. Inside my house sitting on my couch, I listened to more news. When the baby giggled, it surprised me.

We have plenty of food at home, but somehow the news made me want to go somewhere, to sit across from Sam at dinner. We picked a new Mexican place and sat in colorful booths, sharing fajitas, talking, stuffing small tortillas for ourselves and handing the baby crackers. Behind Sam, up on the wall, I could see a TV playing the news. Over and over I watched a man stop running, then crumple in the middle of the street.

When we got home I fed the baby, rocking her, grateful to be holding her in the dark nursery with a nightlight and her white noise machine playing ocean waves. Sam came in at one point, whispered that one of the casualties was an eight-year-old, that ten people had lost limbs. He went back out to read more news and I kept rocking, waiting until I was sure she was sleeping. When she fussed, I found myself telling her, hoping it was true, "You're safe. I've got you. You're safe."


AM said…
Everything is more frightening now that I'm a mom. When I nursed Jack tonight before bed I thought similar things--this fragile, sweet little body, such an awful, violent world to receive it, and how I want to just hold him and keep him safe from all of it. And yet. I want him to grow and know the world. Being a mother in an unpredictably violent world is a hard thing. But there is always hope, I have to tell myself.

Amara said…
I always look for a reason: the person was mentally ill; global warming caused that storm; they live on a fault line. The truth is it doesn't keep me safer. It's a comforting way for me to put things in boxes and feel in control. Sad.

Mike had talked about taking the kids to watch at the finish line this year, but in the end they decided to go with somewhere near mile 18. I can't get over the fact that it could have been me and Anna left all alone if they had gone with the finish line. So devastating.
Annie said…
I love the Mr. Rogers quote that says something to the effect of: when you see scary things happen, just look at all the helpers, there are always people helping others.

I guess it gives a little hope to the situation. We can't completely keep our kids from the scary world, but we can teach them to be helpers.
belann said…
I guess I have had the same dark imaginings as I pondered the possibilities in my mind. Good thing you let me know you were safe before I heard about the bombings. I liked Annie's comment that it is good to focus on the helpers.
Bryson and Tara said…
Oh, Deja. You are such a wonderful writer. You express feelings that I wish I could. :)

I am heartsick about what happened, but I am also encouraged by the many heroic and selfless reports I heard too. There is so much bad, but so, so, so much good too.

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