Talking to My Kids about BostonRachel Matthews
Disconnected for 3 1/2 hours.
We walked out of MD Anderson and I checked my phone – scrolled through FB and Twitter and gasped, the breath ripped from my body at the horror, the disbelief.
My mind flew back to 2001, a newlywed huddled on the couch watching in horror, as a nightmare leapt to life in full color, complete with sound effects and no alarm to pull us out.
Today, I watched, read, followed and grieved with a different heart and eyes.
Today, I messaged friends that were supposed to be there.. I prayed for the unknown, but I held my breath for friends living in Boston, and friends who traveled to Boston to run the marathon.
Again – a nightmare from which I cannot wake.
I am a runner, well… I’m more jogger than runner, but I try. I get up every day and lace up my shoes, and I hit the pavement.. I lose myself in the rhythm and pace, the beating of my heart, the pulsing of the music, the slap of my feet against the pavement.
A marathon is a celebration, yes it’s a competition and a badge of honor, but it’s a celebration of a shared passion.
Today, rocked people to their very core.
Like many parents, I struggle with how much to share, how much to tell, how to tell.. what filter to use, if any.
As I sat with my children today going over homework and discussing the day, an image from my friend Bridget crossed my instagram screen
Bridget’s photo spoke to me of hope, of solidarity, of a belief that the light will chase away the darkness and with that image in my head I began to talk with my kids. I did not show them the videos, I didn’t show them the news, but I let them see the brief images of the heroes, the brave – the lights. The ones who ran towards the injured, the danger, without knowing what else was to come. I showed my children the darkness, and I let them see the heroes – the lights- facing down the unknown darkness.
In age appropriate terms, I told them what happened.
I explained that someone very sick in the head, someone with twisted beliefs and a skewed moral compass believed that destroying something that brings others joy and hope was the right thing to do. That in life there will always be people on small scales and huge scales that will try to snuff out the light, rip away hope, and shatter the good.
I told them that when all seems lost, when devastation, loss and tragedy are all around, to look for light – to look for the ones running towards the tragedy instead of away. Wherever there is darkness, all they have to do is look and they will see the light, no matter how small – it is always there.
In a small sweet voice, my small one told me “Mama – there are bad people, but if the good ones stand up and fight, they can prove that good is always better. When I grow up I’ll be that light, Mama.”
and with those words, and a lump the size of a tennis ball in my throat; I sent them out to play – to be children once again, to laugh, to forget, to just exist in the moment.
I sat and stared at a computer screen filled with emails and to-do lists, and as their laughter filtered through the walls, the giggles and squeals eeking their way through the bricks and mortar of our home, I shut it all down and went outside to breathe in the hope, and to whisper prayers of thankfulness, gratitude, sorrow, peace, and love into the winds.
Inspired by Bridget – I took a picture of my running shoes with a heart and the word Boston.
Tomorrow morning, I will get up and lace up those shoes and I will run again. I will sign up for another 5K and perhaps someday I will run the streets of Boston, because I will always follow the light, and turn my back on the dark.
I will always choose hope, and I will continue to show my children that you must face down hatred and ignorance with perseverance, belief, faith, and strength.