I have been blessed with many experiences that might fall under the label of "surreal". They usualy center around visiting historical sites, or physically beautiful locations.
For example..it is surreal to walk the streets of Pompeii..knowing how many people died there, and how much of the city was burried for so long.
It is also surreal to stand in the Anne Frank house/museum, or walk through the annex where they hid, knowing that you are standing in the same place that the SS stood when they arrested those that were in hiding.
Surreal is also the word I would use when standing at the edge of a stormy Atlantic coastline or looking up into the vastness of the night sky and feeling just how small and insignificant you are in comparison to the forces of nature.
Surreal also describes the events that were unfolding in Boston on April 15.
You see...someone picked on my city....and there was nothing I could do about it.
And I had the stomach flu.
And I was over 1,000 miles away.
And I was leaving for a vacation.
So in addition to running to the bathroom, running the kids to their activities and running to the store for last minute items, I was also running down to my "office" to check news website updates, running to the phone to call and check on family, and running to turn up the volume on the kitchen radio when the next newscast was scheduled.
And realizing that at least I could still "run"........
Yes, my family members were all OK. No danger of any of us actually qualifying to run the Boston Marathon, or being caught anywhere near downtown and all the crowds. It was Patriot's Day and many had the day off and opted to watch the race on television.
Yes, people my family knew that were running were unharmed.
Yes, I let my kids watch and listen to some of the media coverage.
They knew something awful had happened in mom's hometown
near where their grandparents live
near where we had vacationed last summer
They are old enough to know that evil exists, and need to know that evil does not get to triumph.
So we packed our suitcases, listened to news updates, prayed for the victims and first responders and headed south for a belated Spring Break. Because there was nothing else we could do.
In my mind I was prepared for the investigation and hunt for suspects to stretch on for at least a year. Surely the culprits were half-way across the globe by the time the 16th rolled around.
Surely this would require the co-ordination of multiple international law inforcement agencies.
Surely this would not hit any closer to home.
April 19 SHOULD have been the day we went to go play, care free, in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
April 19 SHOULD have been the day I could finally take a deep breath and feel like I was on vacation.
April 19 SHOULD NOT have been the day I had the following surreal conversation with my parents:
Me: Hey! What are you guys doing up there????
Parents: Locking the doors and hoping our neighborhood doesn't show up next on the news. What are you doing?
Me: Watching t.v. hoping your neighborhood doesn't show up on the news... and getting ready to go to the beach before it gets too hot.
Parents: Wow, rough life. It's too cold up here for beach weather.
Me: Have you heard from ****? (brother who lives IN the town of the man-hunt)
Parents: No, but he usualy doesn't get up for a few hours. Or unless the Police have to crash his door down today.
Me: OK. Lock your doors and duck your heads. We're heading out. Bye.
See...surreal....Who has a conversation with their parents about local man-hunts and Spring Break beach trips???
Walked on the beach
Played in the surf
Enjoyed the wild-life
When we returned to our home-base for the week, I did give in to the news junkie in me, and kept my husband's laptop open to that social network site, and a news site or two...or four.....
I did my best to not let this disrupt our rare family vacation moment and yet still keep tabs on what I could not control. I'm not sure I succeeded on either front.
I am thankful that most of the drama is over, that the immediate danger has passed...for now....
I know that there are many, many more people who lived an infinitly more surreal week than I.
Those people have a myriad of difficult and life-altering decisions to make in the times to come.
I, however, am left with only one surreal decision to make:
What size Kevlar vests to order for my parent's Christmas present.....
'cause I missed the class on that.