September 11th 2001
I was sitting in my 9th grade English class, tuning out my teacher as usual, when suddenly a student running late to class entered, chest heaving, and anxiously spoke, “Something happened in New York, there was some kind of crash at the Trade Center.”
The teacher quietly looked across the room at the student, telling the classroom that they are not sure what had happened yet, that all of the details had not been released, and for everyone to calm down. Looking back at it, I think it was her way of trying to protect any shred of innocence and naivety we may have had left.
I remember the bell ringing, signaling that the class was finally over. As I walked into the hallway, I felt my stomach muscles tighten in that way when you know something terrible has happened. Suddenly, a stern yet worried voice boomed over the loud speaker, letting students know that yes indeed, something had happened, something terrible. Students flooded the halls, with pained expressions on their faces, some crying, some confused, and others rushing to the main office to try and contact their parents.
I remember entering the cafeteria, and walking over to my friends, not realizing I had tears stained to my flushed cheeks.
My father was working in New York that day, and I had no idea if he was safe.
My mother had picked me up from school shortly after. My father was okay. I still did not fully understand; fully grasp the severity of what had happened. Sure, there were many devastating events I read about in history books, but never, not once in my young life did I think I would be part of a historical tragedy. The kind of tragedy that you think, “My kids will be reading about this some day.” The kind of tragedy that changes you, forces you to shred the last bit of childhood wonderment from your soul. That was the moment I realized that there was, in fact, a kind of evil in the world that I will never understand.
Here we are, 12 years later, and that feeling in my stomach has returned as my heart breaks for Boston.
This isn’t about comparing the tragic events. This isn’t even about pointing out the number of people who were hurt, killed, changed forever.
This is about recognizing that when terrible events like this happen, we must turn to the people we love, reach out to the people in need, and let all hatred melt away from our minds.
I needed time to process what had happened. In the past year, we have been bombarded with so many horrific events that my mind and my heart felt completely overloaded.
After scrolling the numerous messages on social media websites, I noticed that some people ached just as I did, others chose to respond with apathetic discourse, and some even chose to make this about gun control (like seriously? stop it. just stop). I found myself angry, sad, and frustrated.
No matter how people chose to deal with their feelings in this terrible tragedy; all of these responses echoed the same underlying emotion…fear.
We are scared, all of us. It is easy to say, “I am not surprised about what happened in Boston,” considering all of the terrible violent stories in the news. It is easy to focus on gun control to “protect” oneself when a criminal is on the loose. Sure, it is easy to cover up this fear by emotionally disconnecting or projecting your feelings on to another issue like gun laws.
But this is not a time for easy. This is not a time to disconnect. This is not a time to talk about gun control.
This is a time to come together, soak it in, step away from your computer, get out of your damn seat and hug someone.
Start small. Smile at your coworker who looks like they are having a bad day. Stand up to the bully harassing the kid in your school. Advocate for the underdog. Pick up your phone and call a friend that you haven’t spoken to in months. Disregard the jealous, the mean, and the selfish.
We may not be able to control what every person in the world does, we may never be able to stop the terrible tragedies that happen every single day, and we may never ever be able to understand why and how things like this happen, but we can always come together, support each other, and fight every evil act with the kindness, love, and the strength of our human spirit.
We Love You Boston.