A Cowardly Act of Terror

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wond...
Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz first edition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like most Americans, I was horrified to hear of the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Our collective gasps of disbelief echoed throughout the day from radio to internet to television coverage as we watched in sheer amazement that a day so full of life and energy and dedication is now forever tainted.

It was a cowardly act of terror, to be sure.

Alongside the reports of runners blown off their feet by the blast, parents frantically searching for their children, and well-wishers scrambling to find their loved ones, another act of terror was playing itself across the country in my little town. Sadly, this act was complete, equally heinous, and inflicted upon an elderly couple for no apparent reason.

Cowards murdered them in their own home.

These were people who, like the marathoners, loved life. They loved their families, their communities, the arts, politics and music. They loved being together. They loved their home. They didn’t deserve to be victims.

As a mom and teacher I always wonder how to explain these tragedies to our children. How do we explain, soothe, and make it less scary? How do we assure them that this didn’t happen in their town, their state, or their home?

But what about when it does?

What I’m wondering now is how to explain it to me. How do we explain these cowardly acts of terror, these humans who believe they have the power to inflict suffering on anyone, let alone one they’ve likely never met, never had any sort of cosmic connection. How do I explain it to me when I have to go back to work, choose an outfit in the morning, savor my coffee with cream, and have the absolute luxury of kissing my children goodbye?

I‘m beyond feeling like my tears matter; instead, I go straight to anger. Rage fills my mind as I see the  photos of the 8-year-old boy holding a sign for peace, surely not knowing it would be used to identify him after he died. I tremble with fury when I think of the 86-year-old man and his silver haired wife so brutally stabbed less than a mile from where I’ll tuck my babies into bed tonight.

And I feel guilt- guilt that my children still have grandparents, guilt that I still have my children, and guilt that I at least have the  hope that these cowards will be caught, brought to justice, and be kept far away from me. I feel guilt that the tears just aren’t there this time, but simply replaced with frustration.

So tonight I’ll lock my deadbolt , set the alarm, and as I fall asleep, I’ll try one more time to explain it to me. I’ll try not to think about the cowards out there. I’ll try not to think about the mothers weeping for their children. Instead, I’ll try to nurture words that will calm my soul, ease my anger, and soothe my children.

And with any luck, I’ll wake up and remember these words from Abraham Lincoln, words that surely were born from times like these:

“Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.”

By the time I wake, I know those cowards’ victories will be dead. But do me a favor-if you have found a way to explain these cowardly acts of terror, please let me know. I could use some advice.


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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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    1. There really is no explanation, I fear. That’s hard for a person like me, who likes to have answers. Trust that good triumphs over evil is all I can do. Thanks so much for commenting.

    1. Yes, Leigh, it’s sad when people do these inhuman things…and I hope that they are balanced out by all the good, kind, and loving folks who just want to make the world a better place. Thanks for commenting – Jennifer

  1. I was shocked when I first read news of the incident on my Twitter timeline. And when I saw the videos on the news, I was like, dazed and confused as to why things like these had to happen. And to think the suspects were young men, one still in his teens? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Whatever issues those brothers had, taking the lives of innocent people, terrorizing an entire community – no, an entire nation… it’s just evil to the core.
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    1. Yes-evil is right. I wonder how they turned into such unfeeling humans. When I listen to the news reports of their friends who say they were ‘normal’ it makes me sad. To think that something or someone could make another act in such despicable ways is beyond comprehension. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. -Jennifer

  2. Oh, Jennifer, I wish I knew. What I do know is that the thing which got me through this last one was a FB post from a friend and colleague. “Look for the helpers. There are always helpers,” it read, followed by an image of Mr. Rogers. There ARE always helpers. The good outweighs the bad. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but it does. That’s important to remember.

    1. Laura, I loved that meme, too. I thought it was amazing how many times it popped up in my FB feed, in a variety of images. I do have hope that there are always helpers, and know that I try to teach my children and my students to be kind and help one another. It is something to cling onto, for sure. Thanks for commenting – Jennifer

  3. –I couldn’t sleep that entire night. My heart hurt.

    I love what Obama said– “We will finish the race.”

    I believe we will in the end.

    …but in the meantime, I am sad sad sad for our country, our children, our hopelessness….

    Great Post, Mama.
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    1. Kim, I agree with you – we WILL finish the race-we have to. We cannot let bullies, terrorists, and evil people conquer what we know is good and right. It’s an age old quest, really…we’re just weeing it in a modern form. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. -Jennifer

    1. No, Lindsey, we can’t. I’m traveling a lot again this summer, and while I do think about these crazy acts, I do not let it stop me from meeting new people and sharing the peace and love of Americans. Thanks so much for commenting. ~Jennifer

  4. It is not possible for people who are neither mentally deranged nor evil to make sense of acts such as these. Grateful that my family and I are safe and sound.

    1. I agree with you, Lori. It is difficult to rationalize the irrational acts like these. So glad I can hug my family tonight, too. Thanks so much for commenting. ~Jennifer

  5. Jennifer, I absolutely love your quote from Lincoln…man, that guy was amazing. I am grateful for your words because they are mine as well…how do we make sense of the senseless? How does anybody who is trying to live a happy, whole life not falter as they stare such evil in the face? I simply cannot wrap my brain around this cute elderly couple so cruelly stabbed to death, let alone someone planting bombs with the intention to maim and harm and yes, kill innocent people all to make some sort of point?

    What can really tick you off about the Boston marathon? The sense of purpose? The goal-oriented good health of it? The people running in others’ memory or honor because of an illness or crushing experience? Honestly, what’s the point the bomber is making? For some reason, if I could see a point it might make it seem less random and less evil…but I don’t know. Maybe that’s what I tell myself. Because the “point” of Oklahoma City never did help one bit.

    The only thing that brings solace at all are the acts of kindness and generosity that ripple after an event like this. That’s what I focus on. That and the fact that our days are indeed numbered and we’d better make the most out of each and every one. Cheers to you, neighbor! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Beth, thinking about how we spend our days is so important. I cherish every moment I have with my children for so many reasons. Sometimes these horrible moments in our society make me realize how very important it is to live each day the best we can. Thanks, neighbor! ~Jennifer

  6. I’m very saddened by this as well, Jennifer. I keep thinking about that poor couple’s last moments, and I’m sure their family members are wondering about that too. Brutal and senseless. All of it. Their murder and the bombings and all crime like this. I don’t understand it.
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    1. Michael Ann, I’ve thought of that too. What terror they must have experienced. It is just not right to have to end your life like that. I cannot wrap my head around it. ~Jennifer

  7. The explosion resonated all around the globe and as a runner, I am deeply affected by what happened. An event that’s suppose to celebrate the strength of the human spirit, marred by killing and horrifying injuries…it just doesn’t make sense. But I know, as we all do, people rise up from such tragedies, stronger and more determined.
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    1. Yes, Aileen, you’re right. We will rise up stronger, I hope. The elderly couple killed in my town, however, makes my head shake at the senselessness of it all. Thank you so much for commenting. ~Jennifer

  8. That is the perfect quote. I wasn’t aware of it, but absolutely perfectly placed and describing everything. I’ve yet to find a way to describe it to myself and am still numb. I can’t focus too much on it or I can’t get through the day, and there are too many who need me for that, but what a pair of senseless tragedies.
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    1. Michelle, thank you. I think being able to share our stories and perspectives is the only way, sometimes, that I can begin to process such difficult life issues. I really appreciate your comment. ~Jennifer

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