April 20th, 2013 .
It is the morning after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured and taken off to Mt. Auburn Hospital. Last night, while correspondents reported, “It’s over,” the streets of Watertown rejoiced in relief and gratitude, singing the national anthem. Yesterday, Boston Marathon bombing victim, Jeff Bauman who lost both of his legs was visited in the hospital by actor Bradley Cooper and Patriot football player Julian Edelman. They are all smiling in a photo taken of them. It’s heartwarming to see people come together, reaching out to others with the love they feel in their hearts. I think of Dzhokhar’s aunt who was interviewed yesterday morning, disbelieving her nephews were the bombers. My normally loving, compassionate Bostonian brother thought she was crazy. Maybe if I never experienced that period of denial before believing something is so horribly true, I would also have no way to feel compassion for this woman.
In my moment of denial, I had a fierceness inside me, just like this crazy aunt. In my mind and in hers, the evidence just didn’t match how we knew our loved ones to be.
Slowly, more and more clues were phoned to me, indicating that perhaps it was true. His hair color was not dark, but light red. The officer could tell better now. Well, there’s got to be some explanation because the man shot in that truck is not him because his truck is dark green! Another phone call…He describes a wallet on the passenger seat. It could be anyone’s wallet! The officer calls again, telling me when he calls his cellphone, the phone in the truck lights up. “Mame, I was wrong. The truck is dark green.” And finally, the description of his glasses because they are so distinct–heavy black rimmed–gently told me it was him. I felt a thick fluid sinking down my brain and what remained was the truth. My brain was slowly accepting what was ludicrous hours ago. I think my brain was also simultaneously going into shock mode in order to take care of myself, my children, and my friends and family who I would be informing in the morning, and to brace myself for how I was to live the next day and the rest of my life with this new reality.
I rejoice for the residents of Boston. I pray for the injured. May they recover. May they find forgiveness. May all the runners injured run again. For the family and friends of those killed by bombs and gun fire from the Tsarnaev brothers, may you find peace and forgiveness. For the not so crazy aunt, as that thick fluid runs from her mind may you feel loved as you grieve.
I’m glad to read and hear so many people say, “He’s just a kid.” Unfortunately, we seem to learn compassion through experience. In horrible events, the silver lining is our compassion has the potential to grow as well as our inability to contain it.