When you’re down and troubled

Are you weary after the past week? Between Boston, Texas, Washington, and Watertown, I’m weary. And deeply sad.

Last Monday I vowed I would not use my phone at all. My son and I played all morning, and the phone rang. It was my mom, calling to tell me about the breaking news.

I couldn’t stop reading news on my phone. Text messages and Twitter and The Globe; I spent more minutes than I’d like to admit ignoring my child at the playground so I could scan through the news, cry, and scan through again. It wasn’t in vain, though. When a dad at the playground saw me crying he asked if I was reading about Boston. I told him I was. He said his brother was a volunteer at the finish line and that nobody could get a hold of him. I checked my Twitter feed and gave that sweet neighbor (who was doing a damned fine job of calmly and mindfully playing with his son while he wondered about his brother) the number to call and the Google site to check for his brother’s name. I let him use my phone because his had no service.

Then the breaking news of West, Texas. I saw the tragic story on Twitter before the television announced breaking news. My heart stopped when the Breaking News silence stopped whatever trivial crap we were watching, and I said aloud to Spouse, “Please, gods, no more breaking news.” I had already gasped at the Tweets and told him what they knew about the explosion in Texas, so we were sad and scared but not shocked. Until we saw the video of the blast. I’m so sorry for your pain and fear and losses, West, Texas.

Then Thursday, just before bed, after fuming very vocally about the disgusting cowardice of the United States legislature where representatives are supposed to vote, not just avoid taking a stand one way or the other, I checked Twitter. Manhunt in Boston. Young police officer dead. Chase and gunfight on a Watertown street I’ve been on dozens of times and that I still associate with love and peace. I stayed up almost all night watching reporters talk about the scared people near my improv and stand-up comedy home at MIT, the scared people right near a dear friend’s former house, and scared people all over the town whose hearts had broken a few days before.

Breaking news.
All night.
The heartwrenching, terrifying, “Dear Heavens, let everyone be okay” kind. The kind it’s so important to watch that the next day doesn’t feel like tired. It doesn’t feel like anything but shellshock.

It helped a bit to read things like this from The Onion.

But something really helped me last week, as I read and sobbed and wiped my eyes so I could read more.

Mr. Rogers helped me.

Before I read the lovely, hopeful letter from Patton Oswalt, someone in my feed Retweeted a quote from Mr. Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

And thus began my effort all week to look for the helpers.

Like this guy.

And these guys

And the thousands who opened their homes to sad, scared runners

And even these guys

So in honor of Mr. Rogers, my good friend and neighbor Mr. Rogers, I’m going to spend this week being kind to every I see, and teaching my kids about the helpers.

(Below are some more, upbeat, old school Mr. Rogers for you. If you’re anything like me, watch one or two alone first, so you can cry big old fat tears for the really good people in this world.)

PBS Kids’ full episodes of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

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8 thoughts on “When you’re down and troubled

    • I was thinking the Brookline officer was a hoax, but the BPD confirmed to the media it’s a real photo. It made me just sob. Cops are people. They have families and they understand just about everything. But they know and see some really terrible things. And a few bad apples completely ruin their image. So I liked seeing this one.

  1. Thank you for this. I’m still completely paralyzed, but your reminder that there ARE helpers out there, that not everything is bleak…well, it eases things. One foot in front of the other.

    • So glad everyone you know is okay…so sad other people aren’t.

      We’re going to be okay. Most of us. The families with injured or dead loved ones might not. Let’s help them.

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