Archive for April, 2013

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da…

April 17, 2013

Zach FB update

Think about this:
I’m in a mall near Quebec with a group of 8th graders trying out their French skills and I’m following my son’s progress in the Boston Marathon on my phone. I get a text from my daughter – two bombs went off near the finish line – many casualties and cell phone coverage weak at best.

Another text: At least two dead, limbs blown off, perhaps hundreds of casualties…

I had been waiting for the BAA website to update when the first text came in. Zach was nearing the end it and was taking forever to update. Forever just got longer.

I run a checklist in my head:

– Family? My daughter isn’t there, my wife is working, I’m in Canada. OK.
– Zach injured or worse? …How can I find out? …How will I get back? …Who will chaperone my students because I will need to go?

We are back on the bus and I no longer have Internet access. I ask the tour guide to Google it for me – he says two dead, many injured, no names. No help…

This was Zach’s third marathon. He passed the 30K marker significantly slower than his prior marks and I had wondered if this was “Heartbreak Hill.” When I finally got his 35K time I saw he picked up the pace. “Go Bud!” was my silent cheer back at the mall, now I was rethinking that.

My daughter texts me she got Zach on the phone. He answered, “I’m running” and he hung up. What a complete asshole, but my alive complete asshole son. He has no idea.

Relief makes my chin knot up to catch the tears while I compose myself to get back to the job of posing for a class picture in front of the Chateau Frontenac.

Everyday families who have children in combat must go on this roller coaster of terror and relief with every news report. I don’t know how or when you sleep.

This same day the news reported fifty-five killed by a car bomb in Iraq. Fifty-five who have mothers and fathers, who are someone’s daughters and sons, were killed. Their families will feel the terror, but not the relief. I don’t know how they can sleep.

When my children were little and got tired they became unruly hellions, lashing out at everything. I think this is universal human trait. Since I can remember we have had wars and bombings and terror – perhaps another universal human trait. Maybe we are just too tired; maybe we all need a nap.

Yesterday, I had a glimpse into the abyss of uncertainty. My heart goes out to those whose loss I can never understand, to those who have family stationed in harm’s way, to those who have family torn apart while going about the business of life and becoming tally marks on someone’s terrorism balance sheet. Newtown, Fallujah, Boston or Abuja; it makes no difference. I wish we would just give it all a rest and life goes on. Sing ob la di bla da…

PS – Turns out it wasn’t “Heartbreak Hill” that slowed Zach down – he needed to use one of the route portapotties. I am proud my son gives a shit. And thanks to all well wishes on Facebook.