04/24/2013 03:05 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2013

I was in the car, driving through New Jersey. Industrial waste on the left, sickly yellow grass on the right. Above us, a cloudy sky with patches of blue every mile or so.

Then, my father's phone rang. He picked it up. I could faintly hear my exasperated aunt on the other end. Being a disinterested teenager, I though nothing of this phone call, brushing it off as another peek at my ominously boring adulthood. But as the color drained from my father's face, as his jaw became clenched, and as his knuckles turned white, I realized there was something wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. Soon the call ended, and Dad explained, slowly and somberly, what had happened.

Over the week, I stayed with my grandparents and the bits of information that I heard I slowly priced to gather in my mind. Where, when, who, what... Why? That remained unanswered. The whole thing, even though I was 300 miles away, shook my to my core. My heart was constantly rising in my throat, like a balloon filled with helium. I longed to go home. Some days I felt forgiveness. Others, searing hate. Sometimes I just felt nothing at all.

I can't even begin to understand the grief of the families of the deceased. I can only know their confusion. I sit here, asking "Why?" I ask anyone, but no one answers me back.

As a child, I learn everything I know from adults, but in a time like this, they have no answers. I look to the television, but it has none, either. I feel a sort of unnatural calm, like that of which comes before a storm. When something like this happens, you are surprised, especially if the only thing blocking you from it is your front door.