A year ago, my daughter, joined by her Boston College dorm mates and other friends, cheered on the Boston Marathon runners as they reached the top of Heartbreak Hill, at mile 20.5. Later that day, after the event was over, they posed for photos standing under the finish line banner in downtown Boston. Yesterday, she was frantically texting and calling those friends and others. Some ran in the marathon; others work in Boston near the site of the blast; still others were on campus where police were checking for suspicious packages. All were fine but still a sad and unsettling day.
If my daughter was still a college student yesterday, I would have been making those calls to check on her and her friends. She was fine, living hundreds of miles away. However, my two sons work in New York City, and, being an overly concerned mother fueled by news reports of stepped up NYPD presence, I wanted to check in with them. Of course they were safe and teased me about my concern.
Yet anyone who lived in New York on 9/11 understands that ingrained emotional reaction to the possibility of terrorism; that sense of hyper concern; that need to make certain immediately that everyone is present and accounted for.
A friend whose daughter is starting college next fall mentioned that she was looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep and not listening for her daughter to come home by curfew. “Out of sight, out of mind,” she sighed.
Well, yes and no. Many moms do get uninterrupted sleep (until menopause hits) not listening for the key in the front door lock. We can finally push that anxiety into a jar and seal the lid tight. That doesn’t mean we don’t still worry and look forward to the text or call after the weekend partying. Still, by the time they go further afield—like a semester abroad—most of us have mastered the out-of-sight technique. And texting, Skyping and cell phones keep them on the electronic umbilical cord so they are never really too far away.
But the worry wart explodes from it’s hiding place when the normal routine is shattered by some sort of catastrophe— man made or natural–reminding us all too quickly how life can change in an instant. The bombing in tranquil Boston at a joyous event gathering runners and their families shows, once again, that anything can happen anywhere. “Out of sight, out of mind” works only until the next frightening news alert. Our thoughts and prayers to all in Boston.