Disappearing Act

Sometimes, I feel as though I’m expected to pull a rabbit out of my hat.

In fact, I think I have, over and over again – as a parent.

I know I’m not alone. It’s the magic feat of the single mother or father, the working mother or father, the solo parent most of all. It’s the magic feat of the mother who is raising sons – sometimes navigating foreign territory, and hoping for the best.

Then there are the acts of disappearance – with the expectation of reappearance after long minutes of tense waiting, and even fear. We count on the magician to deliver a satisfying resolution.

The magic trick that goes awry? It leaves us desolate.

The Magician’s Panache

When I was a child I loved the magician’s panache. I’d marvel at the assistant who steps into the box and disappears, or even more so, those movies of Houdini’s escapes, drawn into the grueling moments of suspense and then the return, executed with confidence and a flourish.

Pulling a vanishing act from our online communities? We all do it, when impacted by the responsibilities and concerns of the “real world.” Disappearing from one aspect of who we are to pay attention to another? We all do it – by choice, or because we must.

I feel as though I’ve pulled my own disappearing act in recent weeks, and more so these past days. I’ve been where I usually am – on my laptop or with it at my side, doing what I do. But my priorities have been elsewhere. My focus has been hijacked. And both, rightly so – as life shuffles our priorities, and usual routines are dropped by the wayside.

There were taxes to tend to of course, and just as that tedious and time-consuming task was winding down, there were number-crunching and coordination activities to take care of, known to millions of us as FAFSA and CSS. For those who don’t have college kids in their midst – or don’t quite yet – may I say you have an entertaining experience to look forward to?

The Week’s Events

Then we come to this week. This tragic, emotional, and other-worldly week.

For those who live in or hail from Texas, and for those who have ties to that great state, I can only imagine your eyes have been on the news and your heart has been in your throat since the terrible explosion in the small town of West.

For those, like me, with connections to the Boston area, or those who are runners, those who love the Marathon, those who have felt personally affronted by this week’s bombings and the manhunt that ensued – I venture to say your emotional state is a jumble.

Much like mine.

For some of us, the events of Marathon Day brought back the fear we felt on 9/11 and in the days following. The human mind is remarkable in its facility to chain events together, to link shocking and vulnerable moments, and to remind us how precious a single life is.

How precious those we love are to us – that we should tell them so, and live our lives as if we mean it – every single day.

Connections, Confusion

As one with deep ties to the Boston area, my disappearing act this week has much to do with the shock of watching events unfold on television in neighborhoods adjacent to where I grew up, neighborhoods that haven’t changed in generations, and knowing one of my sons was in a locked down area. Seeing the face of that 19-year old, I couldn’t help but think of my younger child who wears his cap in a similar fashion, over his equally “wild” hair and big brown eyes.

Like so many other college students. Like so many other sons.

What makes a boy described as “a wonderful kid” turn into something so inhuman? A boy described with a sense of humor and friends, and a “promising future?” What explains the disappearing act of all that is connective, feeling, and decent? How does compassion vanish from the heart? How does evil flower in its place?

We can look to roots in other countries, and try to place blame or find an explanation. We can look to troubles in our country, and try to place blame or find an explanation. We can look to the way the human mind is influenced and led to darkened places, and seek explanations.

Hold Someone You Love

Most of us cannot fathom this sort of indifference to suffering. But I remain both numb and relieved at the events of this week which for me were already so much about my own sons: long hours of digging through documents to provide financial data for their education, and glancing at pictures of my boys – grateful I know where they are, and that they’re both alright.

There are families with so much healing to come. My heart goes out to them.

There is a way of life we too often take for granted. Why does it take these tragedies for us to appreciate it?

Will our sense of security become part of our disappearing act? Will our willingness to live our lives as we wish be degraded by these events?

I hope we will reach out and hold each other. I hope we will be resolute. I hope we will insist on our re-emergence, with confidence and a flourish.

© D. A. Wolf