We want to blame God for this. We need to name the monsters, so we call them terrorists, evil flesh-covered devils of some ancient brutality who assumedly believe that all must perish for one to survive. We want to escape from the reality of this world, unforgiving of its chaos and accepting of nothing but a few unbroken moments before our own oncoming extinction. I want to set the demons ablaze and watch them burn, the flames leaping skyward like some autumn melt ascending around the marbled glaze of my eyeballs. But I won’t.
I can’t. There is too much ammunition available to stop the firefight. I’ve tried to blame many things for the pain this world has caused, but there is no ultimatum waiting at the end of the equation my brain strains to manipulate into an acceptable form. There is no answer for the explosion, simply the blast and the aftermath.
My friend died recently, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot breathe life back into his lungs. My heart shatters, and my eyes bleed each time I picture the way he used to laugh at my jokes. I have to remind myself to gasp for air as I succumb to the sorrow of the silence he left behind. I keep seeing his face in my brain, as if he is going to pop around the corner with a huge grin and tell me that I’m the one on whom the joke is being played. I look forward to seeing him again, but these eyes made of ocean blur his image each time I wake to his face.
I miss you. Already. Each time I laugh your name it’s as if you’re still here, but as I shall never truly understand the loss of love, somehow you are not. I’m sorry, for I know you don’t want me to lose the dream we had, but you took with you all the memories we were going to make when you left, leaving me only with the ones that I have. I’m scared that if I keep repeating them with such ferocity, somehow they are going to fade from my grasp into the arms of oblivion.
I saw today devastation that shuts the eyes of the onlookers in shame for being a part of this species. I saw today words that tried pitifully to exclaim and explain the anguish felt in the hearts of the believers, and I was angered simply by their existence. I cried out loud again today, for today I saw our faces, together on some stage long since passed, and they held no shame, but sincerity for the serenity they brought each other.
Maybe the bomb-maker hates my creator, and maybe he hates me. That I can live with, but I can’t survive lying quietly amidst the mindfulness of the innocence lost when the fallen have barely begun to walk. They had many steps to be measured, and yet their feathers were plucked before their wings had even stretched from the nest. We would all dive for the dirt if it provided a safe landing for the gathering, but stumps scatter the forest floor, and we live on an earth where the buzzards circle.
Wisdom is the most difficult one to understand. Serenity comes like a thief in the night and rests in our bones like a head on a pillow, while courage shifts like the seasons of the year, its availability warmth for our veins one moment and its absence cold in our souls the next. I do not feel the wisdom necessary for the prayer to survive some nights. I want to be courageous on all fronts and forge the blade deep into the hearts of the compassionless, but I drown in the serene existence of proximity and finite confinement. I cannot stop a hateful man from hating, but at my finest, I can stop myself from judging him.
There is pain in this world, and it is the wound that continues to tear open, but the heart holds the cure for the earth. I do not blame God because I love Him, and I believe that He holds the key to the room where only truth exists. I forgive you for leaving me, my friend, because you are incapable of doing so. I will not tolerate your erupting rage, you ruthless fool, because the wisdom gained from all the names that have graced my tongue reminds me to be patient for the pain to escape in exchange for the palace awaiting, as your implosion is imminent.
I want to resuscitate the heartbeat of those whose lives were partially stolen in Boston today. I can relate to your pain, if only in minimal ways, and understand that it will never exit your chest, but I shall pray that it lessens with each brick that retracts the damage of the blast, as I hope mine does.
I see you, Kevin, and feel your encouragement to continue past the shrapnel. I will witness, for you and of you, the courage it takes to live today, tomorrow and the next, until I truly see you again. You will not be forgotten, brother, for this goes far beyond me, as it is not you and it is not I, but has been and will always be, we.
Eric Engel, formerly of Tiskilwa but now of Madison, Wis., is a graduate of Northern Arizona University. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.