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Sunday, April 21, 2013


As I turned my car toward home today, I was suddenly struck by a mighty surge of nostalgia.  It stabbed my heart.  My eyes watered.  The back of my throat throbbed.

Nostalgia is a Homeric word literally meaning 'pain or ache'.  That is certainly how it hit this afternoon—a physical hurting and longing for a time or place now gone.

Was it the way the sun slanted through the clouds? I wondered.  Maybe it was that hint of green at the tips of tree branches lining the street?  Or perhaps it was the song playing on the radio? I'm not sure...  But suddenly I was transported back to a moment I hadn't thought of in many years.

Abruptly I longed to be young.  I ached to be at my childhood home in a more innocent time of life.  The events of this past week may have triggered this reaction.  The bombings at the Boston Marathon occurred on Monday, April 15, 2013.  Another layer of naivety was stripped away from America as this act of horror took lives and maimed many.   Of course the original wound of 9/11 is barely scabbed over.  Shootings at schools rip at that injury.  Other callous acts rake across and reopen the gash. Will it ever heal?  Will we always long for that nearly forgotten time of innocence when people didn't set out to destroy and terrorize others?

I know one of the marathon racers running Monday.  She said the finish line was within sight when she heard the blast.  She assumed it was a celebratory cannon shot or firework.  Other racers reported thinking an electrical transformer had blown or a garbage truck had dropped a huge dumpster.  These are circumstances our minds imagine could be true.  They are the sorts of experiences we've had.  But now, when they hear any bang or explosion will we immediately think, “Oh, no! Another terrorist attack!”?   This is more of the injury perpetrated upon us: changing perceptions and beliefs, altering thought processes, and thrusting us into a state of constant suspicion and mistrust of others.

Rob and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary on Monday, April 15.  Between a visit to Huntsman Cancer Institute in the morning and terrible news on the radio about Boston the rest of the day, it didn't seem like much of a celebration.  Perhaps that was the true source of the painful nostalgia which has gripped me recently.