Admitting powerlessness to my children

April 15, 2013


When I was a child, I remember learning about the radio replay of “War of the Worlds” and how narrator Orson Welles had listeners actually believing the world was being invaded by aliens. The year was 1938.

I guarantee I would have been one of the gullible people who believed what she heard was fact.

And I would have been scared as hell.

But the fuel of my fear would have been a faceless boogie man. I would have been scared of the stuff that inspires great ghost stories and of the imagery that Alfred Hitchcock presents.

Fortunately, like the child who’s afraid of what potentially lurks in her closet at night, I could flip on the light switch in my brain and make it all go away.

The 117th Boston Marathon happened today. Over twenty thousand runners raced in ideal mid-50s temperatures.

At the 4 hour, 9 minute mark of the race, an explosion detonated and blasted shrapnel into both bystanders and runners alike. About 10 seconds later, a second explosion and more inexplicable carnage followed.

In that moment, life was stolen from some and life for others would forever be stained.

The injured ranged in age from 3 to 62 years. One of the fatalities: an 8-year old child.

I learned about the 8-year old’s death before sending my own 9-year old off to baseball practice.

The unfolding of this event arose a sickeningly familiar feeling within me.

It took me back to September 11, 2001, when I wrote a journal to my oldest whom I carried in my belly at the time, trying to explain the World Trade Center bombings…but knowing I never really could.

It took me back to December 5, 2007, when a high school boy strolled into Von Maur within Westroads Mall in my hometown and meticulously shot and killed eight people, wounded four, and then took his own life. I thought of the parents who were shopping for their own children that day in preparation for Christmas.

It took me back to December 14, 2012, when 20 children and six adults were fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I fought the urge to pick my kids up early from school that day, knowing that maintaining a routine was important – as was letting their teachers know how much they mean to me.

I listened to A.M. radio today for updates. I hate listening to A.M. radio. Yet, that seems to be my go-to instinct as I’m collecting my thoughts during times when my mind races about the hows and whys surrounding such tragedy.

I simply can’t come to terms with the fact that these events aren’t radio-staged broadcasts. I can’t change the channel to make the boogie man go away.

That realization hurts my heart in ways I can’t explain.

If my children can live with the knowledge that I’d do everything in my power to protect them, I guess that has to be enough.

Written by Heidi Woodard