How do I make sense of the horrors that took place this weekend? There is no sense to be made. 11 people were horrifically murdered on Saturday morning for no reason, with no logical purpose. How does one live in a world where you know the next time you walk into your church, synagogue, school, office, post office, or any other site that seems completely mundane and totally safe, that place might just be the very last one you step into?
And how do you send your children off to these places? How did it become a great act of courage to send my children to school in the morning? Each morning, when I kiss them goodbye, a very small voice in the back of my head, one that I try as hard as possible to silence, wonders if it might be the last kiss.
Yesterday, I worked with my colleagues to put on a conference for more than 150 Jewish educators. The conference had been planned for about a year, but it happened to fall on the morning after this horrific act about 300 miles away. I sent a message to my colleagues, which I then repeated for all of the educators and later for the evening news too (yeah that happened!) that we must go on. We cannot let an event like this prevent us from the most important work we have: nurturing and raising our children and building a better world.
I held it together pretty well all day long. I did my best to comfort those around me, to be strong and be sympathetic. And by the time I had done this all day and made my way home, I could barely move. And then when the work was finally done and the distractions were over, the actual terror set in. Last night, as I lay in bed, I could not help but wonder about the office I would walk into in the morning with the word “Jewish” on the front door. What if someone comes to the office? And then my mind went completely wild. What if someone comes to my husband’s synagogue? What if someone comes to our neighborhood on Halloween when hundreds of innocent families are walking about? What if, what if, what if…
I slept little last night. Maybe that goes without saying. This morning, when I woke up and the sun was up and the world felt a bit different, I tried to make sense of the utter panic that held me captive last night. And then I remembered the movie A Clockwork Orange. My grandfather insisted I watch it when I was a teenager. He loves pop art of many forms and he felt like a classic Stanley Kubrick film was a necessary part of my repertoire.
It was the most frightening film I had ever seen, but not for the reason that most people found it so disturbing. Sure, the second half of the film, with all of its incredibly twisted psychology, was disturbing. But to me, it was the first half of the film – the part about his life before he’s captured – that gripped me in horror. I remember watching and thinking that it was the randomness that terrified me. The main character and his gang walk around and pick people at random to torture. There is no rhyme or reason. There is no money to be made, no drug deal to score, no turf to claim. Just violence. Completely random violence.
And that is exactly where I am at again. It is just random. Yes, there is hatred. This one was anti-Semitic. Previous ones were racists, misogynists, homophobes. But the violence itself is random – the time, the place, the people. Why this synagogue? Why a bunch of elderly people? Why this Saturday versus any other? There is no answer to these questions.
And that is what’s terrifying. There is no way to predict or protect. There is so little I can do. But here’s what I will do: I will keep raising my children. I will keep providing Jewish education. I will keep commuting to work. I will keep driving to karate. And in a few days it will seem normal again. I hope.
Ordinary Days, Meaningful Life is a labor of love geared toward working moms ready to embrace the chaos and find meaning in it. If you found this post meaningful, please share it with someone you think would enjoy it too! I’d love to stay in touch with you! Leave a comment below, contact me, or sign up for the mailing list. I can’t wait to hear from you!