Evil

For some reason over the past few weeks every time I have thought to write a new blog entry I just haven’t followed through. My thoughts haven’t been very focused; no theme has emerged and I haven’t felt urgency about sharing anything in particular.

Part of the reason is that until this past weekend we were on vacation for two weeks in Asia (Hong Kong followed by Phuket, Thailand) and the days were a blur of sight-seeing, beach-going and swimming with baby elephants. You know, the usual.

Plus, I was so friggin’ happy to be cleared to go on vacation after an infection landed me in the hospital a little over a week before we were scheduled to depart that I just let everything else fall away and tried to focus on packing… and then relaxing.

Once away, when we would return to our rooms every night after dinner, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of a screen and type. So I didn’t. I thought about doing it — every night — but I just let that, too, fall away.

Not, however, without some twinge of regret, for I believe I sort of left you hanging regarding the outcome of Marjorie’s infection. In a nutshell: just to be safe, I spent two nights in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics and then I brought home Augmentin tablets and took enough with me on vacation to take (prophylactically) to get me through the entire trip. I’ve had enough of the stuff in me to stop an army of infections and have now been off everything for about six days.

Time will tell whether it is really gone. I think it is.¬†Let’s hope all remains quiet on the western front.

In addition to the gobs of antibiotics I hauled to Asia with us, I brought along anti-diarrheal medication, rehydration sachets, children’s allergy medication just in case someone got a reaction to something, Tylenol (paracetamol), aspirin, sun block, industrial-strength bug spray and gel with 50% DEET (possible carcinogen/God knows what else vs. malaria/Dengue — you pick), Cipro (just in case one of the adults got a terrible stomach bug)… I could go on. And I packed all of this crap neatly in the carry-on so that we would not be without it in case any of these ills I was prepared to prevent befell us. Unlikely, I know. Overly cautious, yes.

In preparation for our travels we also got several vaccinations, some of which we probably didn’t really need but I figured better safe than sorry.

In Thailand, I instructed the children to use bottled water to brush their teeth, just in case.

I slathered them with enough sunblock to prevent a burn — so much so that we barely got a hint of color.

Of course we didn’t need any of the medication I brought with us. The worst ailment was a case of swimmer’s ear that our six-year-old picked up about a day before we returned. So we called the doctor and she too was put on antibiotics so that the infection would begin to clear before our long-haul flight.

Yes we made it all the way to Hong Kong and then to Thailand and back to London and nobody was much the worse for wear. Safe and sound and home again.

And then Monday night my father emailed me that there had been “explosions” at the finish line of the Boston marathon. The Boston marathon, an event that my family and I enjoyed watching every year when we lived in Wellesley. We would stand out in front of the library on Patriot’s Day and cheer the runners, walkers (and those whizzing by in wheelchairs) on. Because the participants came right through our quiet suburb, we did not venture into Boston to stand at the finish line. But I don’t believe I would ever have feared taking my family to such an event.

Even after living through 9/11 in New York City.

It was just such a pleasant, low-key event. A Monday off work and school. A day to indulge in an ice cream cone and be with family and friends.

Monday night I felt very far away from home. Watching the loop of footage on the Internet and on TV didn’t do much to make me feel closer. When the email reassurances from friends and family trickled in I felt relieved but still far away, sickened and bewildered.

It’s disgusting. Like the Newtown massacre, it’s unthinkable. Yet both of these things happened. Recently. How can I explain this to my children? How can I understand these things myself?

I haven’t come up with much, other than this sad truth: evil exists in our world. It seems to be having a field day right now.

When I was a little girl I was afraid of strange things, such as the Boogey Man and falling into the wall into another world (thank you fourth grade teacher obsessed with Boogey Man stories and Ray Bradbury, who terrified us every Wednesday with a new tale of horror). I really was petrified by these things. I thought the creepy stuffed clown I had might come alive and strangle me in the night. I decided to put it up in the attic so that it wouldn’t be too close to me. I got a lock put on my closet door so that nothing up in that attic (to which my closet led) could slink down and get me in the night.

That all seems so quaint and charming now. My childhood fears. I almost long for them, even though they were the cause of a lot of anxiety at that time.

But they sure beat early cancer, senseless acts of unspeakable violence and terrorism.

I never feared those things. I don’t want my children to fear them either, but I cannot imagine that they won’t.

When we told the girls I had cancer the smaller one asked if she could catch it — like a cold. I was prepared for this question and offered her reassurance that she couldn’t. But I also didn’t go a step further and promise her that she would never get cancer, because that would just be a flat-out lie.

The morning after the horrific attacks in Boston, I decided to tell the girls that something had happened because I worried that people at school would be discussing it and I wanted them to hear something from me first.

The little one didn’t really get it. The older one asked me, later, why anyone would do such a thing. That’s a good question, isn’t it? How can such things even exist in our world?

How do you explain that level of hatred to a child? You can’t.

As you may have guessed, my point is that no matter how much we try to protect our children, our families, while still leaving the house every day and taking¬†some risks, we just can’t protect them from everything. This is not a new concept, I know. But is it just me or do things keep getting a hell of a lot worse?

Yes, I dreaded the Boogeyman and my assortment of bizarre childhood demons. But damn, the days of the Boogeyman are looking pretty good right now. I’ll take the Boogeyman any day over the shit we live in fear of today.

Luckily, my children are not afraid of the dark and as of yet, to my knowledge, they have not experienced nighttime fears the way I did when I was little. Luckily, too, they are far too young to fear the things that we as parents fear. But one day they won’t be. One day they will see what we see. They may never understand it, because I don’t really understand it myself. But they will become aware that such evil exists. They will grow up in a different world.

I sure wish it weren’t thus.

2 thoughts on “Evil

  1. Em,

    It really was surreal in Boston. We were in town visiting family and we got tickets to the Sox and then were planning to watch the marathon after. It was a great game – 9th inning walk off victory. We actually made it through 9 innings with all 3 kids. When I was walking up to our seats in the back row of the bleachers in the 4th with a sleeping baby on my chest and two beers in my hands I nearly got a standing ovation. One guy even declared me an “American Hero”! Good day in Boston, right? After the game, we head out to watch the marathon, Brooke and I with our 7 year old, 4 year old and 6 month old and my uncle and father. It’s all jammed up trying to get on the green line at Kenmore, so we decide to walk towards the finish line and get on at Copley or Prudential or somewhere. All of a sudden, we get to Mass Ave and we see about 50 police running towards the finish line. Then the sirens start. Coming from all directions and moving fast. Then the race volunteers stop the runners and barricade the course. They look panicked. We have no clue what is going on at this point, but know we need to get the kids away. Long story short, kids were troopers walking all the way to North Station. Boston was really great, everyone just tried to help each other through the chaos. It’s still haunting my 7 year old, though. She understood that real danger was close by and that people were hurt. She can’t ever go back. She understands now that there is real evil in the world.

    Best to you and Bill and the girls. Keep writing! I’ve recommended your blog to friends who are killing it.

    Mark

    • Good Lord, Mark. I am sorry that you saw any of it but very glad to hear you are all okay. I have been glued to the news all day starting this morning when most of the US was still asleep. Talk about surreal; this doesn’t seem like it could really be happening. I hope that Cole is feeling better. Keep in touch.

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