Reach out and hug someone. There is no time like the present.

It feels like there is an elephant in my room. These feelings are far too familiar from 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina for me. In 2001, I was a college freshman in New Orleans and in 2005, I was still a college student but now in Lafayette. Both of these disasters I can recall as impacts on my life emotionally and both left me staring at a television screen wondering what was to come. And now we have Boston. The difference for me personally is that this time, I am not a college student; I am a mom. The tables have turned emotionally.

Photo by Katharine Shepherd

Sharing a special moment with my daughter, Stella, on her first birthday in January 2012

Internet media makes it easy to get word out when tragedy strikes. Sometimes minimal details are known, but just enough is said to make us all a little anxious. As details are revealed, sometimes more fear builds. People turn to social media accounts and post pictures of memes of “Pray for...” Posts are also made with personal opinions and beliefs on events, sometimes without all the facts.

Meanwhile, there are people like me who avoid it. Because, if I avoid it, nothing is real, right? Wrong.

When the dust settles and I have a grip on reality, I seek reliable news sources for additional details of events and decide to deal with my inner emotions. This morning I read a story of a boy named Martin Richard, age 8, killed in Boston as he was waiting to give his father a hug after finishing the Boston Marathon. As tears filled my eyes, I thought of my daughter waiting for me to finish something epic I had trained for, just standing there with excitement then suddenly taken away in an loud blast. Empathy is not a light emotion; it makes my palms sweaty and heart race. I will never know what it was like to be that father who reached the finish without receiving that hug. I do know this thought: I will cherish every hug I ever receive from my daughter.

I cannot live in a bubble and cannot shield my family from life. We walk out the door in the morning with nothing promised to us on a return home to our families. All I can do is live each day and tell mine how much I love them and pray for safe return.

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