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The Podium

One month later...

One Month Since

By Ann Carter, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications

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I visited my mother this morning. She asked me whether I had heard the roar of thunder overnight as storms passed through the area. She told me she thought a bomb had gone off and assumed it would be followed by the sounds of screaming people. She never thought to associate this experience with the Boston Marathon bombings of one month ago.

My mother is neither a drama queen nor an alarmist. She, like the others of her generation, has experienced difficult times in life including the Depression, World War II and the work-a-day challenges of raising a good-sized family with an industrious husband but without the resources she would have liked to have had to clothe, feed, educate and house us. Nonetheless, she takes enormous pride in the strength of carrying on and appreciating her many blessings — and reminds us frequently and unceremoniously to do the same.

Yet now she hears a clap of thunder and waits for people to start screaming because recently a bomb did go off and many people did scream. At 83-years-old, she is having her own episode of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Even before witnessing my strong-willed mother succumb to the residual force of violence, I had been thinking a lot about the impact of it on us all — those of us for whom Boston is home. We’re now in the “club” with too many members — those who have experienced unexpected violence in the streets of their home. From Dorchester to Baghdad: Abidjan to Tbilisi and back to New York City — gun fire sounds, bombs explode, innocent people scream in pain and many more than those directly impacted by the marathon bombings are injured and lose loved ones.

Now many of us who regularly imagined what it must feel like by witnessing graphic news coverage or unedited film on the internet no longer have to imagine. We can no longer be numb to the frequent reports of violence and loss. We have felt the fear, the outrage, the paralysis, the coming together, the overwhelming sadness. We still feel it. Perhaps we will always feel it as it has become an impression on our brains and hearts.

From knowing firsthand our own version of what so much of the world has and is experiencing, we have the chance to become better by accessing heartfelt compassion for others. We have become better by participating in and witnessing the support of others — expected and unexpected. As we experienced the darkest reality of human existence, we were comforted by the brightest in the love extended to us by others.

As the days ahead pass and we face challenges great and small, let us become brighter from the inside out. Let us expand our view from that of our town to include the rest of the world. Let us extend our compassion and support to others even more sincerely than we have in the past because we now know how it feels from the bottom of our hearts to be afraid, to ache, to be comforted and to go on.

Ann Carter is CEO of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications
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