603733_10200837417355233_1874374034_nI have spent the last 15 hours in a panic of anxiety and fear.  The second bombing suspect, the “white hat” was hiding in my daughter’s neighborhood.  She was kept awake all night with the explosions, the shooting, the sirens and police lights and helicopters and humvees.  I was petrified, thinking of all of that violence right at her doorstep.

We have been glued to our TV’s, our radios, our computers, all day long. Monitoring the updates, the searches, the breaking news, the latest developments.  Kate has been in constant touch with us by text and by Facebook. “We are safe!”, she told us, “We are staying upstairs in the bedroom. Too many windows in the downstairs rooms.” We paced, and waited, and sweated and glibly reassured ourselves. “There are a million cops on the street. What could happen?”  Then we hugged, wiped our eyes, and continued to stare at the repeating news updates.

I love my daughter more than I love my own life.  She is my first born child, my heart, my soul. I am her mother.  I would walk on hot coals to keep her safe.  All morning long, my racing mind focused on trying to find ways to get to her, or to get her to me.  I couldn’t stand the feeling of helplessness that came over me, knowing that she was in danger, and that I could not save her.  My sense of unreality increased as I watched the coverage of her neighborhood on CNN, The London Times, Le Monde Paris. Fear had me breathless and weak at the knees.

But a second emotion crept over me today, too, and I am at a loss to explain it.

I am so profoundly, deeply saddened by the idea of two brothers being brought to such a level of despair that they believed it was the right thing to do to kill innocent people for some unspoken reason.

I found myself looking at the pictures of those young men, especially the younger, “sweeter” brother, and I felt my heart breaking for them.

Believe me, I understand that these two men have committed unspeakable crimes. I can see the faces of the victims, those who have died, those who have been so horrifically hurt. I feel the rage of the survivors. I am hurt and angered for those innocent lives. I am. A part of me, not the best part of me, wants vengeance for that little boy, for those bright and happy young women, for their families, for my city, my state, my own family.

It would be so easy to become just as violent as the men who did these terrible things.

But for some reason, the faces of the suspects have reached out and have touched my heart in a very unexpected way.  They were brothers, linked by family, history, mutual love and admiration.

They make me think of my sons.

In spite of myself, today my heart was heavy for the terrified, cornered, desperate teen aged boy who was being hunted by all the firepower of the government in our city, our state, our region.   I found myself in tears, over and over again, as I thought of him watching his brother die and running for his own life.   I found myself weeping as I thought of his parents, shocked and terrified at the unfolding events.

I spent today scared to death for my child. I wanted her safe and free and unafraid.  But I also spent today praying that the police would capture the second suspect alive, and would bring him to justice.   Not so much because I want to hear his explanations, although that would be some comfort to us all.  No, I wanted him to be brought in alive because no matter what he has done, he is somebody’s son.  He is some mother’s little boy.

I could not stand the thought of him dying alone and in terror and guilt and grief.  I imagined him remembering happier days, maybe days of laughing with his siblings at his mother’s table.  I imagined him asking himself, “What happened?”

The better part of me, perhaps, the more human, more humane part of me rose to the surface today.  Perhaps it was the mother in me, thinking of my own boys, so close in age to these two, which brought me to tears. Truly, I am not sure.

I am so inexpressibly happy that this killer is in custody, where he can do no more damage.  I am so relieved and exhausted.  He is caught; my girl is safe. We can all rest at last.

But I am relieved, too, that he is still alive. I am happy that he didn’t bleed to death all alone, desperate and in fear.

He will face what he has done, and he will pay for it.  But not alone, and in the dark.

In spite of it all, he is still a human being.  And to my relief, it seems that so am I.

36 thoughts on “Compassion

  1. Karen,
    I knew I wanted to meet you all these years! I am so glad that your daughter and her boyfriend may sleep a bit deeper tonight. In regards to this boy, I share the same emotions for him. His soft eyes are wide and eager to absorb something, anything, bigger than himself. His ‘sweet’ face shows his innocence, and his age tells me how easily influenced he is. Big brothers are so cool and they know everything. “White Hat” was misguided and most likely had no clue he was driven to hate. I watched my two boys play their varsity baseball game today. One stands 6’10 on the mound, the other warms the varsity bench when he swings up from JV. Today, little Doyle was called upon as a pinch runner for big Doyle on first base. I swear he glanced over to Mom and Dad to make sure we were watching. He hustled out, probably anxious to give big bro a solid, manly fist bump that will allow the switch on the field. At 17, he idolizes his 18 year old brother and rightfully so. I keep crying for the Chechnyan brothers, but more so for the younger one. Soon he will realize that his big brother disappointed him and he will feel his heart break. I prayed they would take him alive. I watched the capture with my hands over my eyes. I was frightened for him. I want him held accountable for his actions but I have hope that he will do the right thing. Give the answers. Provide the info that may prevent future destruction. He still has an opportunity to assist in the greater good. I hope he agrees.


    • Oh, Julia, what a beautiful comment! I kept thinking of the relationship between my boys, too, and how close they are and how my younger has looked up to his older brother for his whole life. Just so incredibly, incredibly sad.
      And I’ve been dying to meet you, too! Hope to see you again very soon!


    • No, it isn’t that they actually remind me of my sons, it isn’t that my boys would ever hurt anyone. It is just the sorrow of realizing that they were someones “little guys” at one point, that people love them, that these are two more lives lost. I hate hate hate what they did; but it is heartbreaking to look at them and wonder what happened.


      • I agree, moms – it is heartbreaking to see young men’s lives go so terribly wrong. There were so many other choices they could have made. I’m glad your daughter is well.


      • I can’t feel heartbroken looking at them. So many lives are just ruined. I think of Henry Richard, with his survivor’s guilt, wondering why his younger brother died, and he is fine. He’ll always be a mess now. I think of little Jane without her leg. I think of Martin with his life over at 8. Their parents’ lives are shattered, they will never be happy again. I think of the two young women in their 20’s, with their lives ahead of them, and the people who suddenly don’t have limbs they had last Monday morning. I have nothing in my heart for the Tsarnaev brothers.


      • I know, and I understand. I felt nothing for Tim McVeigh, nothing to the Unibomber. I truly don’t understand what I am feeling here. I don’t even feel any sorrow for that older brother. It just that somehow that younger boy got to me; he will no doubt get the death penalty, and I will shed no tears. I don’t understand my own reaction, but it was real.


  2. I got absolutely nothing accomplished last night because I was glued to the television. And, I can relate to what you are saying. Although I had no fear for a loved one, I did think about how lonely and scared the suspect must be. Then I felt guilty for thinking that. But I also knew I wasn’t alone. When I got home last night, my husband told me he couldn’t stop thinking about how our son, who just turned 15, is only 4 years younger than “Suspect Number 2.” And because of that, he too felt guilty for that small part of him that was worried for the young man. I am so glad your daughter is ok and that your heart can relax.


    • I feel guilty, too! Aren’t we humans just the most complicated species….?
      I am just so sad today, for the victims, for those who had to see such horror, for the police, for everyone.
      Wishing you peace, my dear!


  3. Moms, I came to this post with eyes still wet from listening to Elizabeth Warren’s maiden speech on the Senate floor calling for us to take care of each other. You are such a deeply good person, my friend.

    I’m glad your daughter is safe. I too am glad they found they boy alive in part for the reasons you say but in part to hear the whats and whys of what he did. But it is in treating others better than they have treated us that we show what sort of people we are. I fear it’s going to be a bit of a fight to keep people remembering that you catch more flies with honey.

    So glad Kate and her boyfriend and their dog are safe.


    • Thank you, Elyse! I’m not sure how good I am, not at all. I am surprised at my reaction, truthfully. But my kids keep repeating that love is the right reaction, and as my good friend Patty said, “We are mothers first.”
      Whatever evil he has been a part of, that guy is just a kid!


  4. Moms, I haven’t been reading any of the blogs this week because I spent most of my time glued to the TV and praying for the people of Boston. HOWEVER, I did see your previous post on my phone as my husband and I were driving to an event, and I read enough to know that your daughter was in the center of the action. I want you to know that I specifically prayed for her constantly, and I am so happy to hear that she and all she holds dear are safe. What a scary thing. Your post on “compassion” is excellent and appropriate because but by the grace of God that kid could be any one of our kids. Anyone who has raised children know that they are quite vulnerable at times and can fall prey to all number of horrible influences even from the best of homes. All the best. ET


    • Dear Eleanor, you can’t imagine how comforting I find it to know that you were praying out there for Kate and Sam! What an ordeal, and what an emotional roller coaster!
      Paul and I are off to the Red Sox game today, thanks to some generous friends. Hooray for Boston!


  5. You expressed how I’ve been feeling so eloquently. All through the search for the second suspect, I kept hoping that he would be captured alive. I kept thinking of his youth (to me, 19 is still a child) and the possible relentless influence of his older brother. My heart breaks for the victims and their families. The actions of these brothers is heinous and my sympathy may be misplaced but my heart breaks for their family.


    • Thank you for the validation. Truly, I just think the whole situation, from start to finish, is incredibly SAD.
      I keep wondering why his parents left him behind at such a young age, too……


  6. Hi Patty,
    Over the weekend I was struggling with my thoughts of the 19 year old bomber and I mentioned it to Paul on FB and he told me to check out your blog. I’m 57 and have struggled most of my life with emotional issues. It was only in resent yeas when I discovered that I lack empathy. As a child I learned to mimic people’s reactions to emotional circumstances and I’d copy them. I’m not a complete rock but I mostly only feel empathy for what I refer to is “perceived innocents”. In other words I feel bad if I believe the individual wasn’t some how responsible for bring on there pain and suffering. It’s actually much more complicated than I’m making it out to be. So with that said; can you imagine my confusion over my concern for this 19 year old after learning of his path of death and destruction? I feel bad for him and I don’t understand it because I rarely feel empathy for good people. Logic tells me to discard him like the trash that he is yet the images of him from past years and comments from classmates and alike, tug at my heart. I do not believe he’s innocent yet I do not want to see him suffer. The only thing I can come up with is; there must be some compassion in me that I haven’t explored.


    • I know, what a complex and upsetting situation it was for all of us who followed it! I am still conflicted myself. I only hope that justice can be served without killing that young boy.


      • I’m sure he’ll be well protected before he’s convicted but after, it may be more humane to euthanize him if he’s put into the general prison population.
        What’s truly sad is the majority of our society would prefer to see him tortured and raped for the next 10 to 15 years.
        Thanks for your blog and your response to my comments. I will not weigh in on this topic anymore; I have to let it go. Thanks again.


  7. what a lovely post. how wonderful to read about compassion rather than hatred, anger and blame. i too felt what a mother feels at the thought of him bleeding to death in that boat while it was being peppered with rubber bullets. which, as you said, does not take away from the compassion you feel for the victims or the fact that he will have to answer for this heinous act. it is possible to feel both. thank you for that.


    • And thank you for understanding my strange compassion. I have actually been surprised by the number of people who shared my concern for that boy on that night. We are all angry at him, but all shared a hope that he’d be caught alive.
      Such complex emotions; but I am happy that our better selves prevailed in this case!


  8. thank you for writing this. I felt the same emotions…for the victims, for the mothers and fathers, and yes, even for those who committed the atrocities. Compassion for one another is all we really have.


    • So true! My sons have both said that the only answer to such hatred is love; the only answer to violence is compassion.
      I still feel conflicted about my reaction, but I can’t hink about a boy who is too young to even order a beer, and yet he has been caught up in this terrible event.


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