Boston, one year later

We’re leaving for Boston soon (nice try, creepy burglar people, but we have a housesitter and trained attack kittens) and I’m so excited. Friends I haven’t seen in years, research for my novel, the always heart-filling fun of watching Spouse run a marathon.

But I’m worried. We haven’t told the kids about last year’s tragedies. We don’t plan to. I really, really really, really don’t want to. Really. Last year was devastating. Disgusting. Terrifying. Enraging. Like many others I spent every single ounce of saline in my body weeping for the families affected by those monstrous acts. I spent all night watching Twitter as the police went from my old work neighborhood to my improv neighborhood to my friends’ neighborhood tracking the alleged bombers. Brothers.

Photo: David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

Photo: David L. Ryan/Boston Globe

I’m looking forward to seeing how Boston is healing itself. I love that town and I keenly miss being a part of its crispy, crunchy shell and gooey center. (Boston is the caramel M&M that the Mars company has never successfully created.) I want to celebrate Boston and its efforts, I want to feel the community that has overcome the most horrible act during a celebratory act on a holiday of revolutionary acts. I am thrilled we’re going to cheer for Boston.

But I don’t want my boys to hear anything about the bombings. I don’t want them to see or know or think or in any way learn about the families, the sidewalks, the streets that will never be the same.

How terrible is that, though? Is it disrespectful of those families and runners and spectators and first responders to keep this painful reality hidden from young children?The mother in me says no, but it feels wrong to hide the truth.

We’re going back to Boston because I could never fathom being away from that city this week. I started training to qualify for Boston the day after the bombings. (I didn’t get far. I’m easily injured and I have limited time for training. So it’s not going to happen this year.) So did Spouse. We contorted family plans and finances to get the family out to Mass. as soon as he qualified. We’ve been practicing the proper pronunciation of the Chaaahlie Caaaahds we’ll need next week.

But I don’t want them to know.

Is that wrong? Is it disrespectful? If it even possible, given all the love Boston is pouring into Back Bay this week?

I want to honor those who died, those who were injured, those who helped, those who ran, those who sought, and those who stopped…I want so much to do whatever I can to help the healing.

But I don’t want to tell my kids.

Does that make me weak? Parental? Cowardly? Ridiculous? Mature?

8 thoughts on “Boston, one year later

  1. I lived in Jamaica Plain and Medford for a bit in a former life, worked in Harvard Square and on Boylston Street, LOVE Boston. I feel the same about Boston now as I do about NYC. I was so heartbroken to see the gaping hole in the middle of NYC. My face was plastered to the plane window my first trip back. I didn’t want to look, but I couldn’t NOT look. I saw stuff I never saw before, but has been there forever. unchanged. I was disoriented for a bit. Sensory and emotional overload too. My memories of both places won’t be ruined by horror. I’ll go back to Boston soon. I’ll visit old stomping grounds, and see what I missed before.

    Just being there is healing. Them. You.

    The kids will learn about Boston. They will think it’s fabulous. The truth is that Boston is a great place…they can learn the reasons later. A requirement for visiting kids: ice cream with jimmies. No exceptions. No substitutions.

    Safe trip:)

    • Okay, here’s the thing. Herrell’s is closed. Jimmies are ridiculous. I’ve been told J.P. Licks is an okay substitution but I reject that notion. I’ll search Cambridge, Watertown, Somerville, downtown, and Back Bay for good ice cream. And I’ll report back.

      In fact, I’ll make them walk the Arthur Fiedler footbridge to the hatch shell, with pints of ice cream we buy near the Charles MGH stop. That’ll teach them what my Boston really is. ;-)

      • TOSCANINI’S!!!!! In Cambridge.

        I used to work weekends at an ice cream place on the outside of Filene’s…. but it’s closed now.

        • I have heard good things about Toscanini’s. I am cautiously optimistic. I will brave that sugar-and-dairy-based establishment at your behest and I will report back.
          Peanut today asked if Steve’s was better than Herrell’s. No, I replied sadly. No.
          He’s excited to try the recommendations and report back to you, as well. Butter says *maybe* he’ll try. Maybe vanilla and chocolate and lemon. But only maybe.

  2. I loved that you started training the day after the bombing. Glad you are going there– it sounds like you’ll be doing some healing too. Safe travels, please.

  3. I have family in Boston and adore the city too. And oh boy do I understand your mama bear response to protect your kids. After Newtown I couldn’t tell me daughter what had happened. How could I tell her? But other kids were buzzing about the news and her school was bathed in anxiety so palpable that she couldn’t help but know something had happened. I wish so much that I had told her first so I could control more of how she understood the events and the reactions around her. I do not think you are wrong in any way to want to protect your kids. Not in the least. But the world seeps in.

    My uncle always took us to the North End for amazing ice cream.

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