I can’t get the sight out of my mind of the parents pleading to the public soliciting help to find their 15-year-old daughter, or, the family where the 8-year-old little girl was killed and her sister and mother lay in the hospital fighting for their lives. I think about the father who is both mourning and care-taking and all the others whose lives drastically changed in minutes.
For me it hits home. I took my 8-year-old to the same concert at Madison Square Garden at the end of February. My mind shifts from, “that could have been us” to “it could have never been us because we left early from the concert and didn’t wait until the end of the show.” It’s too jarring to identify with it. My mind can’t and won’t tolerate the thought.
To feel personally threatened is one thing, but to experience the threat of our children, brings the fear to a whole other level. It’s terrifying to think that there aren’t any boundaries around the desire for death and destruction. It can happen anywhere at any time.
We worry daily about our children’s safety and control as much as we possibly can, but facing that we have no control over these acts of terrorism, is destabilizing. We seriously contemplate whether to keep our children sequestered and isolated, but painfully know it’s not feasible and constructive for them.
We also recognize that our children have so much more to contend with than we did growing up. There is even more reason why fear and anxiety has become part of their rubric. If social media and looming academic stress were not enough, here is yet another thing for them to be concerned about.
In my practice, I have met with many kids in the past few days. They are riddled with anxiety over their personal safety and the safety of their families. To them, it’s confusing, sad, and fear and worry inducing. This new world is a hard one to navigate through because it requires all of us to be in the throes of facing and accepting that there is a limited amount that we truly have control over.
When I looked at my children yesterday and this morning, I felt a sense of gratitude, a pang of worry, and a yearning to hold onto them for dear life. It’s sometimes scary to be so close in fear that I will somehow lose them.
During times like these, I continue to realize that I have limited control over their demise but can always do a better job at connecting with them, holding them, and being more present with them. My fear may not assuage, but while I have the time with them, it can be even more meaningful, tender, and gratifying. That I do have control over.