I don’t understand, and maybe I never will

Claire Goldsmith

On Thursday night, I texted my friends for the second time in a week to ask if their relatives in Boston were okay.

“I can’t believe I have to ask this again,” I said. And it’s true. I can’t believe it.

How many times have you been stunned by senseless violence, perpetrated against the young or the innocent or the unknowing?
How many times have you been unable to wrap your mind around the how and the why and the what are we doing in this country, what are we doing that this can keep happening?

I was 5 on Sept. 11, 2001. I did not know why my parents kept watching the same plane and the same building on TV but wouldn’t let me look at the screen to see what had
happened. I did not know to ask my mom if my uncle was okay after his meeting at the World Trade Center that morning. I did not know to ask my friends at kindergarten, when I was dropped off two hours late and picked up an hour early, if their parents away on business trips and older siblings at college were okay.

I was 10 on April 16, 2007. I did not understand why someone would bring a gun to a college campus, why he would kill so many of his classmates and later himself. I did not understand why my elementary school started making us do lockdown drills, and instead I giggled with my friends as we hid under desks and joked about our teachers, who fumbled with the new routine of checking the blinds and locking the doors.

I was 14 on Jan. 8, 2011. I had never heard of Representative Gabrielle Giffords. I had never been to Tuscon. I had never thought about the damage that one person, without the mental help he so clearly needed, could do to a community, at 10:00 in the morning in front of a neighborhood Safeway.
I was 16 on July 20, 2012. I could not imagine why someone would plan to inflict such terror on an audience captivated by a summer blockbuster. I could not imagine how he planned so carefully, down to the last pieces of his body armor, to maximize the pain he could cause and the effect he would have. I could not imagine how, two weeks later, another man walked into a Sikh temple to attack representatives of a peace-based faith because he believed in his own superiority.

I was 16 on Dec. 14, 2012. I could not fathom what would motivate anyone to hurt those 20 children and six teachers in Connecticut, or how someone so unstable could acquire so many weapons. I could not comprehend the extent of the parents’ grief, parents who should not have outlived their six- and seven-year olds still working on their spelling.

I was 16 on April 15, 2013. I do not know why I kept watching the same video, of runners falling as flags and fences imploded due to the force of a bomb. I do not know how someone could set out to destroy an event based on positivity and determination, a shining moment for a vibrant city and for so many who set out to accomplish an incredible personal goal. I do not know how you run through the end of a marathon and continue on to the nearest hospital to donate blood, or how you tie your shirt onto a stranger’s leg as a tourniquet and accompany him to the hospital.

I do not know how you immediately run toward the source of an explosion, without regard for your personal safety, to help as many people as you can pull from the ground. I do not know how you cope with the loss of your legs, or sister, or eight-year-old son.
And I still don’t.