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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