I am sure that everyone has by now heard every last detail of the things going on in Boston this week. It seems that it’s everywhere you look. For those that I haven’t already been in contact with, we are both fine, and our families are fine, and we know of no one in even our extended circles that was injured, despite a few close calls.

Of course, watching from the sidelines doesn’t make things any easier. There have been two days this week where I have sat at home, unable to go to work because the city is shut down due to violence. It’s been a cloud that hangs heavy over this busiest time of the semester, and a time that should be celebratory, as our seniors prepare to go off into the world.

In a way, having those enforced periods of stillness has made things more difficult. And yet, it has given me more time to process. There are so many thoughts and emotions to be sorted through in the aftermath of something like this. These are just a few of the things that I have been feeling, in no particular order:

anger – That someone would choose to do such a thing, and that there are people out there who intentionally foster the mindset that leads to this kind of action.

awe – That onlookers responded so generously, risking life and limb (quite literally) to save strangers in the aftermath. Humanity is a wonderful thing. That the health care and law enforcement systems were prepared to step up, move quickly and effectively, and make sure that the situation was stabilized and contained as quickly as possible. There are many heroes in this story.

gratitude – That we live in a time and a place where acts like this are rare enough to be big news. There are many people in the world who are not so lucky.

complicity – I believe that we make the world we live in, and the presence of such horror speaks to a gaping hole in our global community that I do not know how to fill, and to hurts that I don’t know how to heal. But even in our ignorance and pursuit of day-to-day happiness, we are complicit if we hide our eyes. We cannot just shake our heads and say we don’t understand how “they” can do such things. “We” are part of “they,” and in this case “they” were two of “us.” It is imperative that each of us find ways to take responsibility onto ourselves for healing this hurt.

hope – The fact that we are a part of it means that we have the power to change, if we can only figure out how. We have the power to move on, and the strength to make sure that we turn this horror into an impetus for positive change.

sadness – At the hurt that caused this to happen, and all of the hurt that it has created.

resilience – It is springtime. Trees are blooming, flowers are pushing their way up through the frozen, stony ground. Even when things look bleak, life continues. It will burst back joyful and vibrant, with time.

fortunate – Despite knowing several people who were at the marathon (standing in those very spots) earlier in the day, or who had planned to go and were kept home by their studies, and despite the fact that my sister lives 3 blocks from yesterday’s drama, no one I know is hurt. Considering the crowds and the importance of this event in this city, it is a small miracle that there were so few who were gravely injured or killed. In the scope of tragedies of this sort, the damage from this one was (relatively!) small. An hour or two earlier, and the number of injuries would have been much larger.

impatience – I wish I knew what I could do to help. The usual things (give blood, give money, etc.) seem trite and inconsequential in the face of this. I want to know how we can make deep and lasting change that ensures that we will build a community where this will not happen again.

dread  – I cringe at the thought of the days and weeks to come. The anger that now has an outlet, the sadness that will be seeking explanation. The slow, careful searching for a justice that will not change the facts or heal the pain of loss. I am revulsed by the bigotry that I have already seen, and wince at the vengeance that some people feel is the only answer. I also know that this is a normal part of recovery, but I dread the ugliness of it, on top of the rest.

pity – I know pity is sometimes considered a bad word, but I don’t mean this in a condescending sort of way. I feel pity for a life that has led two young men to this. Whatever its twists and turns, it cannot have been a happy one.  I also feel pity for their family, who have just watched two of their loved ones hunted down, suddenly lost both of them forever, and are also grappling with the shock of their guilt. Our need to explain and understand must be nothing compared to theirs.

I am sure that I will continue to cycle through all of these emotions (and more) as things continue to unfold. I don’t know where the answers lie, or even where to start trying to find them. But, as with all large tasks, you just have to take it one step at a time, one day at a time. And there is work to be done.