As a mother of four and a grandmother of one, my heart aches for the parents of the two young men involved in the bombing in Boston on Monday. How do you reconcile this sort of horrendous action with the children you bore, loved and raised? It must be a surreal experience for them…almost like a bad dream they just can’t wake up from no matter how hard they try. And now, besides having to deal with the violence perpetrated on the community by the two sons they thought they knew, these parents have had to bear the shooting death of one of the sons. While all this would be bad enough, they now have to watch and wait while the remaining son is part of an aggressive manhunt by law enforcement. How does a parent get through this shock and sadness? How do you look at the pictures you took of your boys on their first day of school so many years ago and not blame yourself for the men they became? I don’t think it’s possible to not feel guilt and regret…..”perhaps if we had just been home more”……or…….”maybe we were too indulgent”……..or even……”maybe we shouldn’t have let them have those video games.”
There will be some blame pointed at the parents…….”what kind of people are they that their boys did such violence without regard for human life?” Assigning blame makes it easier for us to make sense of a senseless situation. That’s what we humans do when faced with such terror……we take our anger and frustration and categorize it under the right topic and assign it to a file labeled ” Who’s to Blame.” Doing this makes us feel better, it gives us a direction in which to shove the anger and frustration when it comes spilling out of us like water over a too-full bathtub. We may try to stop the flow or even mop up the mess, but it becomes a futile task as we grow weary of the helplessness that’s really at the root of our inability to understand why anyone would kill.
I have asked myself these two questions over and over again…..what if these two young men were my children? Would I still love them? I don’t know how to answer this…..I wish I did, I might feel better. Then I ask myself, would if be wrong if I did? These young men have killed and maimed without regard for human life. They’ve put fear and terror in the hearts of thousands and they’ve led law enforcement on a dangerous manhunt in a community much like my own. These two boys grew up to become vicious monsters……..are monsters still worthy of a parent’s love?
When we become parents, we accept the responsibilities of feeding, clothing, nurturing and disciplining the children under our care. We protect them from the bullies of the world and the monsters under the bed. We teach them right from wrong and guide them in a belief system that makes sense to us. We bask in their talents and take pride in their successes. And while we know they will grow up and follow their own paths, we still have our own dreams of what they might become. We do all this because we love them…..we love them beyond ourselves, beyond anything we could ever have imagined. So, what happens to this powerful and unconditional love when our children grow up to be killers? I have no answer.
Again, I don’t know how I would react if these young men were my children. It’s impossible for me to even comprehend. Knowing that they were so unhappy, so angry and so hateful would rip me apart. And, knowing I could offer them no comfort in the terror they must have felt when being hunted down by police, would cause me a cancerous despair for which there is no cure.
At times like this, when I have so many questions and few answers, I think of this old saying…….”there but for the grace of God go I.”
Blessings to you and your children.