My stomach has been in knots all week over an incident that is happening right now to total strangers half a continent away from me. I don't know if anyone else is following the Alabama hostage situation as obsessively as I am. It's not getting as much coverage as Sandy Hook. Maybe that's because there have been barely any developments since it began on Tuesday. But no one is even blogging about it (violence fatigue, perhaps?).
This story has affected me as much, if not more, than Sandy Hook. This story is consuming me. I can't think about anything else but that poor five year old boy locked up in a bunker with a crazy, armed man. I've been desperately checking Google for updates every hour, hoping beyond hope that the situation is finally over. That the little boy is reunited safely with his mom so I can finally breath again. I've even been waking up in the middle of the night, head full of thoughts and concerns, reaching for my phone desperate for news of a happy ending. But the incident drags on in a precarious stalemate.
As I was driving home from work to pick up my kids this evening, I heard a news report on the story. The reporter stated that the mother is nearby where her son is being held hostage and can hear him crying, distraught, from the bunker. Upon that piece of news, I immediately broke down. Ever since the incident began on Tuesday, I have been trying to imagine the horrors that the boy and the boy's mom are going through. That extra tid-bit of information finally anchored my thoughts on some horrible imagery and I nearly broke down on Highway 305.
As I pulled into my mom's drive way, I felt sick to my stomach. I was no longer excited to see my kids. I felt guilty that I would be reunited with my children while this poor, frantic mother has been violently separated from her child for three consecutive days. I felt it would be the equivalent of eating a five course meal while watching someone starve. Instead of bounding up to my mom's front door like I usually do, I sat in my car in silence. I wished desperately I had the power to do something. To help ease the fear of the little boy. To help comfort his mother as she faced day three without her child and helpless to do anything as he faces danger at the hands of a lunatic. I felt so helpless. So guilty. So haunted.
I eventually got the nerve to go inside. My kids were happy as usual. Completely oblivious to the horros taking place on the other side of the country. Clueless to their own vulnerability as children. Ignorant of the national debates about gun violence and the potential dangers they face every time they go out into public. Oblivious to the emotional storm tumbling around inside me. I plastered a smile on my face and tried to steal some hugs. I tried not to wince as my four year old pushed me away to finish a game of boomerang.
How scary it is to love a child. To have your greatest vulnerability walking independently on two feet outside your body, a target for the world. How disgusting it is to think that people are capable of abusing and trampling the sacred vulnerability of a child for their own gain. I wish I could stop thinking about this. But I simply can't. Until that little boy (whose birthday is next week!) is returned safely to the arms of his mother, I will continue to be twisted up inside.