3:30 p.m. was siesta time, but for a while I sat on the bed and watched the relentless loop of footage ABC News was showing of the bombing of the Boston Marathon: the pavement covered in blood, barricade fencing twisted atop injured splayed on the ground, workers in yellow vests sprinting in and out of camera shots, weary runners weeping. Again?
Of course again. This year’s race, held on Patriots’ Day, was dedicated to the Sandy Hook dead. As I postponed sleep and took in the spectacle, Zoloft kept the lump in my throat from turning to tears. After half-an-hour, I realized Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos wouldn’t be able to tell me anything new for a while, so I set my alarm for 5:05, turned the volume down so I could pretend to listen, and closed my eyes. I fell asleep—for a little bit, I think. Lovely day in Erie, Pennsylvania. Windows open, breeze coming in. At 4:50, neighbor Joy hollered up: “Get down here, Flanders.” (She’s nicknamed me after the dork on The Simpsons.) Her kids were playing outside, and she was summoning me for happy hour.
Of course I went out. She, her husband Kevin, and I sat on the porch and had a couple beers as her meatloaf finished baking. Kevin, one of the smartest guys I know, thinks those bombs were planted by some domestic crazy. The reason: seasoned terrorists time a second bomb to coincide with the arrival of first responders. Joy’s adding random bombs to her worries about North Korea. So we sat, tried to enjoy the clouds passing across the deep blue sky, and sipped.
When wife Kathy got home from work, we took dog Watson for a walk around the block, then drove here to Starbucks for an Americano. After I glanced at the newspaper, I checked msn.com. Mistake. So far two innocents were killed in Boston. One of them was eight years old. At least a hundred were injured; some went to hospitals without their legs.
We’ve got enough violently ill souls in this country that it feels like we’re tearing ourselves apart. I’m afraid there’s no decent answer. For now, my personal choice is to breathe, step outside the insanity for an hour each day to rest my body and heal my mind, and in prayer invite compassion to keep me gentle and steady.