Please, don’t let this tear apart our country again

“I hope it’s not a Muslim.” my husband said. 2nd week vacation pictures 689_2

As I begin to write this, the second suspect is still at large, and I am watching TV. There are reports of gunshots in Watertown, and I am praying that this comes to an end without more bloodshed.

I’m really not involved in this. Yes, when we first heard the news, my heart stopped, but only for a second. A quick phone call revealed that my children and grandchildren who went to see the Marathon, had only gone to Wellesley and were all safe at home. Facebook updates trickled in, and they were reassuring as well. Apparently a niece was within 100 yards of the explosion. But, she was fine.

“They’re strangers.” I thought to myself. “Gun violence in this country kill far more almost every day. The explosion in Texas is more tragic.”

But it was hard not to imagine it. Once upon a time, I ran. I never did more than 5 miles, but it was enough to give me a sense of mingled pride, exhilaration and exhaustion a marathoner feels. This May, two of my kids are in a half Marathon, and we’re all going to go watch them. We’re going to stand there at the finish line, jump up and down, and let our grandchildren understand, through our excitement, that their parents have done something really excellent.

But now a new vision has crept into my mind. I picture holding up a grandchild, staining to spot my child, then pointing and saying.

“See! Look! It’s your mama! Look!! Look!! She made it. She did it!”

And at that sublime moment, hearing an explosion, seeing horror in my child’s eyes while slowly being knocked to the ground, trying desperately to shield my grandson and feeling triumph turning to ashes in one horrible instant.

“I just hope it’s not a Muslim.” I think to myself.

“The thing is, there are more gun deaths. There are more industrial accidents. More people die on the highway. Why is this such a big deal?” I ask rhetorically.

“It’s like an auto-immune disease.” I continue, trying, through logic, to keep emotion at bay. “It’s not the damage done by the outside agent. It’s the damage done by the body trying to defend itself.”

“Shhh.” my husband replied. “Something’s happening.”

I was trying to figure out why I hoped it wasn’t a Muslim. Meanwhile the broadcast featured the terrorist’s relatives.

“It couldn’t be them. It just couldn’t be.” cried the terrorist’s aunt.

“My son is an angel.” pleaded the father. “Please let my other son come home to Russia.”

“Hmmm” my husband murmured.

I shuddered, thinking that the only thing worse than being the parent of an innocent dead child would being the parent of his murderer.

“A parent has to believe their child is good.” I murmured ritualistically, “I hope it’s just some crazy”.

It’s just logical, I thought, to hope that this isn’t foreign. I’m done with the War on Terror. I want my son’s best friend to never have go back to Iraq, to never have to go back to Afghanistan. I want him to just stay at home so that I can stop watching his mother age visibly before my eyes.

And then I blink and realize…yes…Sheela. My son dated a girl named Sheela. I was glad to see them break up because she was a mess. But she wanted so badly to be American, because she is an American. She just wanted marry an American boy, and be like everyone else. But she sure looked Muslim, dark, beautiful and exotic, and her constant arguments with her more traditional immigrant parents broke her heart. She really didn’t need 9/11 on top of all her other troubles.

A relative of mine, now long-gone, sent around one of ‘those’ E-mails. It questioned why Muslims should be honored with a stamp when ‘they are responsible for 9/11’.

“What about Sheela!” I cried. “She’s Muslim! She’s American! Have you any idea how she would feel if she read that horrible E-mail?”

“This has nothing to do with her.” my relative huffed.

I am still sitting on my couch watching breaking news. While my heart is breaking.

It’s still too early to figure out the why. But I pray that it is not a Muslim thing because I’m terrified that if it is, the cure will be worse than the disease. How, after 9/11 could we go from being the good guys of the world to a country that tortured people? And this time? I mean, how often does a city shut down for one 19-year-old crazy?

I don’t mean I think it’s a bad thing. I’m like everyone else. After this, I’m thinking, put more cameras in public places, let’s have more bomb sniffing dogs. It could have been my children, my grandchildren. Please God just keep them safe at any cost. Don’t let one of the best moments in their life turn into the worse in a senseless split second.

Now I just heard that the suspect is alive and in custody. It’s over. Thank God.

Or maybe just beginning. Please, I think, don’t let it be a Muslim thing. Don’t let it tear our country apart again or they will have won.

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