I have this photo of my mother and my daughter touching the tusks of a fake elephant outside the Nakumatt grocery store in the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Yesterday I saw a photo online of that same elephant only there was blood splattered across the floor and a body lying where my daughter stood.
Saturday September 21 terrorists launched a violent and aggressive attack at Westgate, killing at least 68, wounding over 175, and holding hostages. The next day a church in Pakistan was bombed.
I don’t know what to do with this kind of pain. It isn’t mine, directly. Everyone I personally know and love is physically safe. But it is mine, too. I am a mother and a wife and a sister and a daughter and a friend. I am a human. The president of Kenya lost a nephew and the nephew’s fiancée. Friends of friends are still waiting for news of loved ones. This kind of shocking human-on-human pain is, at least partly, for all of us to bear together.
I don’t know what to do to make the violence stop or to make the pain go away. I don’t know what I will do when pain becomes more directly mine. All I know is what I did do, after forcing myself to turn off the Twitter feed on Saturday. Maybe these are the things most of us already do. We live and love and talk and hold and pray with our kids.