One of the most insightful questions we might ask ourselves, when confronted with a big decision, is how would one feel afterwards. A year from now, ten years from now, would we regret that decision or be happy we made it, no matter the outcome?
It was simply serendipitous that I signed up for twitter this past week. And I had to stop looking at one point, because the things people say in the aftermath of a tragedy like the Boston bombings left me numb. And I wanted to feel for myself, think for myself, not be bombarded with everyone else’s thoughts, in real time. Plus, instead of spurting out the first thing that comes to mind, I’ve discovered, with age, that I need some time to reflect, to analyze my thoughts before putting pen to paper, or tongue to teeth…or fingers to keyboard for that matter. I realize that once dementia sets in, all bets will be off.
Only one tweet rang true to me. It had to do with our failure in the Senate to pass a meaningful background check bill that would help stem the tide of gun violence in our country, compared to locking down a city like Boston to look for a nineteen year old terrorist. Bob tells me that approximately 80 people a day die on our streets and in our homes because they could easily pick up a gun; about 2/3 of these people are suicides. On Monday 3 people died in Boston. I know, it was a cynical calculation, a malevolent ratio 80:3 – with a whiff of truth. I wondered how Americans would feel ten years from now. Sometimes it takes someone outside of our culture, to articulate a different point of view.
“After all, it’s not as if this is the first time that homicidal killers have been on the loose in a major American city. In 2002, Washington DC was terrorised by two roving snipers, who randomly shot and killed 10 people. In February, a disgruntled police officer, Christopher Dorner, murdered four people over several days in Los Angeles. In neither case was LA or DC put on lockdown mode, perhaps because neither of these sprees was branded with that magically evocative and seemingly terrifying word for Americans, terrorism.”
This week the lilacs bloomed in memory of my foster mother, Nell. There were lilacs outside my bedroom window in Victory Gardens. I always had to kiss her goodbye whenever I left the house, because she said we never knew if we’d ever return. Certainly I knew accidents could happen, I was living proof, because a drunk driver had hit the Flapper’s car a few months after my father died. At the age of 10 months, about the Love Bug’s age, I left my PA home and became a Jersey girl.
But I never thought terror could happen here, until I heard about my Jersey neighbor’s husband. He left one morning to go to his office at Cantor Fitzgerald. She didn’t wake up before dawn to say goodbye to him on that beautiful morning in September for some ridiculous reason. At another wake without a body, I saw “what ifs” playing out again and again. Someone had dropped their child at school first and was running late, another friend was on a ferry that docked at Wall Street and picked up its fill of ash-covered commuters before returning to Highlands. And I knew that asking “what if” was a futile exercise in blame.