But then life went on. Our favorite shows were still on TV. I didn't know anybody who died. We could still buy microwave popcorn and ice cream at the grocery store. I licked my wounds and moved forward. In time, the illusion of safety settled in around me once again, with only the slightest ding in its shiny varnish.
And that's how things went. I became so accustomed to that illusion of safety that eventually it felt like an armor. People were killed in Kosovo and the armor suffered another ding. Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered, there was genocide in Rwanda, and hundreds of thousands of people died from cancer: ding, ding, and ding. I got it. Terrible things happened in the world. I didn't feel invincible. I just felt safe.
I was living by myself for the first and only time in my life when two planes crashed into the world trade center. This time, there were no dings. The armor shattered. As the dust settled, I looked around and felt stupid. Ignorant. I never had any armor. Luck, maybe?
A little over a week ago, not far from where we live, a mother and daughter were picked at random and attacked in their home while they slept. Four teen boys with machetes and knives stabbed the mother to death and slit her daughter's throat. They say the little girl is going to live. I wonder what they mean by that.
I don't understand this world we live in. A world with apple cider and fall leaves. Where miracle babies are born and learn to smile and laugh and crawl. Where incredible people overcome incredible obstacles. Where we strive to save the forests, save the whales, save the ozone. A world with tulips and warm puppies and grandparents. A world of good. Beauty, love, peace, and harmony.
This world. With poverty and disease. Where we send our children to war. Where we get up in the morning and make our coffee, knowing full well that somewhere, right this instant, there is rape, torture, hunger, and worse. Where four bored teenagers break into a home and massacre a sleeping family.
I don't know how we piece these worlds together. I don't know how to build an armor around my children. How to make that armor real.
I'm not interested in illusions this time.