09/11/2013 05:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


Written on April 16, 2013, a day after the Boston Marathon bombing


In the wake of yesterday's events in Boston, my mind has been spinning.

The details of tragedies are different. Different events occur. Different people are involved. Different emotions are touched. The unfortunate similarity is that all tragedies involve loss. And loss is difficult. More than difficult. It can mean so many different things all at once. The loss of life. The loss of feeling safe. The loss of visions for your future. The loss of love. The loss of physical abilities. The loss of a pastime you love. Loss.

The other devastating part of tragedy is that it hurts. Loss and hurt. Tragedy hurts everyone who hears about it. Hearts ache. Hearts and minds are confused, unbelieving, shocked. It hurts everyone who sees the images of the tragedy or hears the details of the event. It hurts those directly involved. Without a doubt, though, the most difficult part of a tragedy is that many of our lives go back to normal. Many of us, though our heart is heavy, can go on today as we did the day before. Yet, for those who were there, who experienced huge loss on so many levels, today is day one of the rest of their lives. Today, they woke up changed. They woke up without a loved one, without an arm, without a leg, without confidence, without peace. Today is the first day of the rest of their life. Today is different. Every day forward from now is different.

Although my tragedy was different, there is a universal experience, a universal pain that occurs. I will never forget what it felt like to wake up on the morning of November 21, 2011 and find myself in a hospital, unable to get up, without a clue of why I was there. Next, I found out that 16 days earlier, I had been in a car accident. That we were hit head-on. That the children were OK. That my husband was alive, but his brain was no longer showing activity and he would be removed from life support. Tears. Shock. Speechless. Confused. Hurt. Tragedy is always that cold. It is always that shocking. It is always that stark.

I have never and never will begrudge those who don't have to wake up different from my tragedy. People who saw the news story or heard the story in conversation and whose heart hurt for what we were all going through. I would never wish it on you. The fact remains, however, that when you've been there, at that moment, at day one of the rest of your life, the level of ache in your heart is unbearable.

Through the last 17 months, I have had to teach myself to wake up and hope. Tragedy does not have to be the loss of hope. When I could not hope in the beginning, those around me hoped for me, fought for me. Eventually, I began to believe in hope again. Although you can not fix what has happened to the people in Boston, you can wake up with hope in your heart. Wake up with hope for them. Hope for peace. Hope for healing. It is easy after a tragedy of this type to wake up with hate. Bitterness. But what if you woke up with hope instead? What if you went into the day, the world, and breathed hope into the people around you?