Minutes before I found out about the Newtown elementary school shooting I was high on life. The night before had been my company's holiday party and the VP of my department had given my team a free pass to go see the new Hobbit movie on the company dime. I got a text from B about 30 minutes before it ended saying, "I hate society so much right now." I had no idea what was going on.
To me that day is a big wagon wheel of bad emotions. I don't remember the euphoria of the movie or a work hooky day with my co-workers. I remember the cold hard despair of trying to piece together what happened on my tiny cell phone screen and that liquifying feeling that there was absolutely nothing I could do to keep my kids safe in this world.
Yesterday, sitting in an Au Bon Pain with family, LM was going through my purse and found a notebook I keep in there. One page had some doodles on it and the rest was blank. He asked why it was blank and B said, "Your mom doesn't have much of an interior monologue" and I piped up with, "Excuse me, I have a very rich and anxious inner life" to which he burst out laughing so hard he literally snorted his latte out his nose.
I do, you know, have a very anxious inner life. The daily exercise keeps it in check but it is no small secret that I would probably benefit from some medication.
We went to Las Vegas during the April vacaction week. We went to visit B's parents who are now in a hospice type home there and also to see my side of the family. My mom's two brothers live there with their families and one uncle/aunt set have taken a very active role with my kids and we stay with them and experience what it must be like for other people who have parents who can both spoil and watch over the grand kids. Plus, believe it or not, there is a whole host of cool things to do with kids in Las Vegas and very little of it is on the strip.
Before we left, we had decided that since this is our only real travel vacation of 2013 ($2600 just in air plane tickets for 4 people!), we would do a day up and rent a cabana at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino. They have loads of different heated pools and a sandy beach area. It costs a lot to rent it but we decided to go for it and have a beach day. We invited B's sister and my uncle and aunt to come and join us if they could and they did in the afternoon.
Prior to their arrival, we were finally in vacation bliss. We were all having fun and real life seemed far away. When my uncle arrived he asked us if we had heard there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon. We hadn't. There was a large screen TV in our rented cabana and we turned it on.
Our vacation has a very clear before and after bombing delineation. Prior to the news, we had felt carefree, afterwards, it hung over our heads. While we perked up for the kids and relatives, we would sneak glances at news stories and track to see if we knew anyone who was hurt or killed. We didn't thankfully, although I will never get the picture of that little boy out of my head.
We flew home Thursday after a two hour delay at the airport and our pilot going an extra long way to avoid a storm. My kids don't sleep on planes and so it was a long horrible day. By the time we got to our car in the long term parking lot it was close to midnight. Routes we knew to go were shut down. We noticed a heightened police presence but thought it was marathon related. We didn't think to turn on the radio as the kids were finally and blissfully asleep in the back.
As we drove home through some back roads, we kept having to pull over for police cruiser after cruiser speeding by us. "Maybe it is an accident?" I said. "No," B mulled, "something is going on, this is way too many police cars." We were probably passed by about a dozen within 5 minutes. We made a decision to go a slightly different way to get to our house and didn't see more cops.
We pulled into our driveway and decided to unpack the car the next day. We carried our sleeping children into the house and put them in their beds and decided to see if we could find anything online about what was potentially going on with all the police.
Being that we were away all week, we had shut everything down including our internet connection. As B was getting everything turned on, he suggested I go to Boston.com on my iphone and sure enough in a tiny non-mobile optimized header there was the name of our town.
You might never have heard of my town before a couple of weeks ago but now you do. Watertown, MA.
Timing wise, we pulled into our driveway about 20 minutes after the big shootout/explosions and right when the manhunt began for the younger brother. I could walk to where this all went down in 30 minutes if I wanted to do so. I can walk to the house with the boat where he was found in about 15 minutes.
Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep that night. I did drift off around 3am only to be awakened at 6am via texts from my work friends to see if we were still in Las Vegas.
Thanks to jet lag, I was the only one awake when the doorbell rang at 8am and there were armed National Guardsmen asking if I had seen or heard anything suspicious and letting me know they were searching around my house and neighborhood. It was the first of 3 times that day this would happen.
The "shelter in place" would have been more bearable had we not just gotten home from a week away. We had no milk, bread, eggs, or fruit in the house. Sure, we had "food" and made do, but when your kids can't open the shades, go outside, and have to eat the B rated food, it is hard to make them understand why.
The phone rang off the hook all day from well meaning family and friends checking in on us. Of course, having gotten so little sleep and feeling sick with anxiety and the beginnings of a cold, I would try to nap at times. This is when the phone would typically go crazy.
When they let us go outside, I started to unpack the car and talk to my neighbors. Everyone was in their pajamas. It was roughly 5pm. It was short lived as we noted the uptick in the sirens and the choppers overhead. He was captured a few hours soon after.
My funklet is not exclusive to this event. I have been dealing with a year long pain in my left lower back hip area which was finally diagnosed as a mix of "SI joint" and "sciatic nerve" issues which seem to have no probable cause of why they started other than getting older and, as the specialist said, "the straw that broke the camel's back" in that it was roughly a bunch of things leading up to it. My physical therapist and her exercises have helped a lot and now I am to go get some deep tissue massages that, I have been warned, "might make me cry." I might cry just because they aren't covered by insurance and you can't use FSA funds for it and my doctor says it would best to get them weekly.
I always wish I had my mom around but this is when I really wish I could get a maternal hug from her and she could give me advice. How do we keep going trying to raise happy confidant kids and keep them safe in this crazy world when a college kid and his brother the next town over plant bombs 15 miles from your house and throw bombs at cops a mile away? How can I continue to plan a future for myself and them when I worry I might be in a wheelchair soon or pill popping due to chronic pain?
Sometimes I think I know what she would say. She would say "You could be hit by a bus tomorrow" or "There is nothing to do but keep moving forward." And I tell myself those things too but honestly, I think the hug would help.