Monday, April 22, 2013

Urban lockdown.

As it turns out, Monday's bombings that felt a little too close for comfort got a little closer to us later in the week. I was glad that Bruce missed all this action because he's old enough to get it and be scared by it, and I'm glad Phoebe is young enough to not be scared of anything really.

Late Thursday night, I woke up to the sound of sirens. Not just one or two emergency vehicles, but what sounded like dozens of them racing down our street. I fell back to sleep and woke up a half-hour later and heard more. It seemed that they just kept coming and coming. Phoebe woke up, so I put her back to bed.

I grabbed my phone and checked the news. A police officer had been shot and killed two blocks away, just outside the building where Bruce would have gone to Cub Scouts had he not been in D.C. this week. I was disturbed by the news, but rolled over and slept a few more hours until morning.

I had planned to go running on Friday morning, but my running partner (who knows me well enough to know I don't check the news or emails before heading out early in the mornings) called and said, "Don't go out! There's a manhunt..."

And the story unfolded from there.

The police officer that was shot by my house was shot by the men suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings. Coincidentally, there was a robbery at the 7-11 just around the corner (one block away - yikes!) at about the same time. When the police reviewed the security footage at 7-11, they spotted the marathon bombing suspects and thus began the chase.

The governor issued a lockdown for our community. Although most of Friday's events (a shootout or two, a day-long search, and the final capture) occurred in the next town over, Phoebe and I stayed indoors behind our locked door for the entire day. It was genuinely scary. I kept checking the news on my phone and found out the identities of the suspects, found that they lived only a few blocks away from us (one block from where Bruce goes to school - that's probably the scariest thing for me to think about), and frequented the same parks and restaurants. It freaks me out to think that we could have passed them at some point - hanging out at the park or getting a Slurpee after a long run. And although I had felt safe earlier in the week after reassuring myself that those bombings were some random event probably caused by some disgruntled people that lived somewhere else, I felt wronged all over again.

I felt some relief once the suspects were captured. I spent my Saturday out and about; Phoebe and I went for a run with friends (we ended at the site where the police officer was shot and left flowers there), went to the circus, went to the playground, and tried to have a "normal" day. I couldn't help but to wonder who I was passing on the streets: Who is this person? Is this person a terrorist? 

Then it occurred to me that 1) I cannot be at peace thinking that everyone in my neighborhood might be a terrorist, and 2) It's just not fair to even think that thought about everyone I cross paths with. And so I'm back to where I started - you know, trying to be nice to everyone. The same thing I tell my kids to do. 

Throughout the past few days, I've had a Christmas song in my head: "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I think when I woke up in the middle of Thursday night I thought something along the lines of "there is no peace on earth" and as soon as I had that thought, this song started playing on repeat in my head, especially the last two verses.

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong, And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

And so while we may have terrorists in the neighborhood, random robberies of my favorite place to get Slurpees, and certainly plenty of things to fear, I will not let fear paralyze me for God is in charge and will prevail.

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