In March, R won a fellowship to study James Joyce during the Bloomsday festivities in Dublin. Saturday night, he was on his first ever overseas flight. Before he left, I asked him for his itinerary.
“Why do you want that?” he asked.
“Oh, you know, mom paranoia,” I answered.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that if a plane crashes, I want to be able to look at your email and know that it wasn’t your plane. If there’s a terrorist attack, I want to know that you’re nowhere near it. You know, just your basic mom paranoia.”
He laughed at me, but he sent me his travel plans.
When I woke up Sunday morning, Facebook wanted me to tell it that I was safe. I thought that was creepy as hell and then I read the news. Maybe not quite creepy as hell, maybe just a little creepy. I couldn’t stop myself from hitting refresh, refresh, refresh all day long. I stopped when I reached a photo of a teary-eyed mom, trying, in daylight, to get news of her son. The daylight is relevant, of course, because if the news were good… well, the daylight came hours after the shooting stopped.
Needless to say, R’s hotel is nowhere near the latest terrorist attack. I’m so selfishly glad. I know in my head that no place is really safe — it would hurt me just as badly if R died in a traffic accident a mile away from home as if he did in a terrorist attack fifteen miles or even four thousand miles away, and the traffic accident is statistically a lot more likely. But that never changes the fear. And I really wish I’d gotten him a phone with a travel plan so that I could call him and hear his voice. In our highly connected world, we’re pretty retro — I told him to send me a postcard, I believe — so I don’t expect to hear from him until he gets home. But I keep thinking about those other moms, the ones fifteen miles away, who aren’t ever going to hear from their kids again, and my heart is just filled with sadness.
Time to walk the dogs.
I don’t understand what’s happening to our world. I think back to when I was a child and you only read about killings that were between people who knew one another or someone who was trying to rob a bank or store. Not this senseless, willful taking of life done out of pure hatred. Worse than sad, it’s surreal.
I don’t think it’s that people are worse: the Holocaust is pretty clear evidence that haters have existed for a long time. But we have more capable tools. Fifty years ago, a hater might have managed to kill a few people, but killing 50 takes assault weapons or bomb-building instructions.
We all feel this paranoia when you have children…it’s a mom thing!
I think he was about a year old when I told my mom, “it’s like we cut off a piece of our soul and let it wander around outside our body, unable to protect it”. Being a mom can be terrifying. And joyful, too, of course!
Judy Judy Judy said:
It really is heartbreaking. My granddaughter is spending the week in a college dorm just 20 miles away and I worry.
We spent 2 hours at the AT&T store before mom went to Israel trying to insure that she would have phone service and no one in her group could get a call through.
Dublin sounds fun. Hope R has a safe fun time.
Thank you! I hope the same for your granddaughter!