I had just filled my car with inexpensive gas from the special station on Van Nuys Blvd. I was feeling quite content having saved a boat load of money after spending the morning paying taxes and feeling like a truck hit me. Inside the car, my i Phone beeped with a text message - “Hi mom. My phone won’t call but I want u to know I’m okay.”
Happily I drove away thinking how nice that my daughter was checking in with me. A few blocks later, the words, “I’m okay.” still played around in my head. I arrived at Mistral Restaurant for a friend’s birthday celebration when a second text came in from a strange number in Connecticut. “Mom its noa im ok” Upon reading the word ‘ok’, I started to worry!
I proceeded to call her 5 times; all the circuits were busy. A few minutes later, she called. At this point I was listening to my daughter recount her day in Boston blocks away from the Marathon while watching live television feed of the bombing from the restaurant’s bar.
I knew she was going into Boston for Patriot’s Day, a school holiday, to watch the Marathon with friends, but I had not listened to the news all morning. Within seconds, I went from being shocked by this heinous crime to being selfishly relieved that my own kid was safe.
A few months back, while Noa was at Mardi Gras in New Orleans there was a shooting. I texted and called to make sure she was safe. She did not respond. I was on high alert until I heard from her – she had been asleep. I remember very clearly saying to her after that experience, “If you are ever in a place where something terrible happens, please text me right away that you are okay!” On Monday, April 15th she had done exactly as I had asked.
For so many of us, the distance from these abhorrent crimes’ helps us feel less vulnerable until one day when they are very close. During the 1990s my children were small, I lived in Israel. It was a time when Hamas terrorist attacks took place, but each time I was able to rationalize why I was exempt from the tragedy: ‘I did not take the bus’, ‘I did not live in that area’. That was until March 4, 1996 on Purim when a suicide bomber detonated himself outside a busy mall in the center of Tel Aviv killing 13 and wounding 130 more including children dressed in costumes for the holiday. That same day, my kids were proudly wearing their purim costumes not far away and we frequented that same mall. All of a sudden the cover I had built crumbled: the terror penetrated me.
All these years later, I still find myself constantly juggling my emotions after these atrocities especially when they affect children – I am resigned to not having a crystal ball, but am keen on keeping my children safe and secure.
My daughter cannot run 2 miles let alone complete a 26 mile marathon. She did not wait in the stands to greet loved ones across the finish line, but she was in Boston celebrating Patriots Day & the Boston Marathon in her adopted city with her college friends weeks away from graduation. I could not have and would not have stopped her from going to these festivities, quite the opposite – I never want my children to hide in fear rather I encourage them to thoughtfully and creative explore the plentitude of wonderful opportunities that present themselves.
May the spirit of Purim and Marathons always remain in their body and souls!