Seventeen years ago, while Ashlyn flipped in my belly, pressing to my ribs, I watched the terror of the Oklahoma bombing unfold. Full of pregnancy hormones and fear, I felt the urge to walk with my arms wrapped around my expanding stomach, protecting my first born from the world I was about to bring her into.
I took comfort in the fact that she was still inside, but my mind whirled at the thought of the day her umbilical cord would no longer join us. The possibilities of evil lurking as she boarded school buses and walked without holding my hand rendered me terrified.
Six years later I drove to her school wondering what it meant to have a school on “lock down.” I needed to be able to see her right that moment, take her home and cuddle on the couch, away from the terror of September 11th displayed on every television.
Last night, when the last of requests for water and another story and just one more back scratch were fulfilled, I watched an expert walk down a sidewalk with our local news anchor. She explained what to avoid, trash cans and mailboxes being likely targets. Events with a large amount of people, heavily publicized outdoor gatherings and days of the year with specific significance to our country should be looked at with extra caution.
Next time walk to the park do we cross the street to avoid the mailbox on the corner and what if there is a metal trash can on the other side? What if we venture out for fireworks on the 4th of July or decide to head to a major city on a vacation? Do we live in fear or through fear or above it?
Living in fear is draining but feeling that fear and pushing to pass it by is necessary. Ashlyn is my only child old enough to know about what happened in Boston. We discuss that there are people in the world who do evil. She wonders if any of them live near us and I want to tell her they don’t but I have no idea. I mask the fear bubbling up in my answer and decide we’re all going to get out of the house before it rains.
They will collect, rocks and sticks and fresh air. I will collect my thoughts and the picture of them all running past and the giggles as they head downhill and swallow my urge to tell them to slow down and hold my hand and stay inside.
We’re going to keep living out here.
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