My husband works as the Senior Video Producer for Competitor Group, which means he travels the world covering endurance sports. He and a slew of his co-workers have been in Boston since last week prepping for the Superbowl of the running world, the Boston Marathon. Yesterday, at about 11:30 AM PST I texted him to see how the race was going.
As you can imagine, I was shaken to my core when that second text came through only minutes after the first one. A few texts later, when I discovered that he was there and he saw the explosions, my legs went numb and all I could do was utter the words “Thank you, God.” On a normal basis, I try to express my gratitude to people, God and the Universe frequently, but this was a whole body, clasp my hands together, and fall to my knees type of gratitude.
“Thank you, God.”
The following few hours were intense as I began seeing images of what Steve had lived through on TV, and then learning of those who were not as fortunate as Steve. Then came the news of possible other threats and evacuations of hotels. His hotel was on lockdown and ended up comping the minimal buffet that they offered the guests since the night shift kitchen staff were not able to get into the hotel.
I hugged my kids a lot, tried not to let them see me cry, and repeated the phrase, “Dad is safe.” I shielded them from most of the images on TV, which I had to turn away from eventually as well, but they saw enough to ask questions.
What caused that? Are those bombs? Who put them there?
In one of today’s Ask the Mom’s segments on Fox 5, my fellow panelists and I talked about how to discuss tragedy like this with your kids and I learned something very key from a fellow panelist, Dr. Melinda Silva, which was how to respond when the kids ask, “Who did this?”
When my kids asked that question, I said, “Some bad people.”
But her suggestion was to respond with, “Some people who did a bad thing.” That choice of wording resonates with me, probably because it makes it a bit easier to explain. It also lessens their fear. Keeping their fear at bay is the key in these situations, which is probably why my mantra of the day, after “Thank you, God,” was “Dad is safe.”
Dad is safe.
I, like my kids, have also been asking myself, “who would do this?” Who are these people doing bad things. But then I read things, like the Mr. Rogers quote about focusing on the people who rush in to help after an incident occurs, or the now viral Facebook post by actor/comedian Patton Oswalt, (which I suggest reading if you haven’t already) about the evil doers being only a “fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. It helps me put all of this in perspective and it helps me avoid that paralyzing fear that can come with this level of violent tragedy. My favorite quote from his post is this,
” . . .when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.'”
I will take that quote with me as I continue to pray for those who were not as lucky as Steve. And I will also say my thanks that, “dad is safe.”
Steve finally arrived home, back to San Diego, last night at 10:00pm. I let the kids stay up to see and hug him and the four of us had a little bit of family time before they went to bed. Within minutes of cuddling up on the couch with him, their questions about the explosions came fast and furious, and, for the first time, I heard fear in their voices. Especially in my six year old. She asked questions like, “Were there kids there?” and “How do we know this won’t happen when we’re at a race?” My heart broke to hear her fear. Steve and I just reassured her that she would be safe and not to worry.
What terrifies me, is that her worries are valid. None of us know when and where the next horrific act like this can happen. But for now, dad is safe.