As a new Bostonian, I am grieving this week with the city. This is a bit trivial in light of the bombing, but I learned something about our little experiment while I was watching the news and seeing the terrible reality unfold.
One thing I have wondered going in to this is wether I can laugh, cry, love, connect, mourn, fight, grumble and cheer in French. It is one thing to speak, it is an entirely different thing to emote in a langage. I have found it surprisingly easy to connect with Nelson in French. I can love and adore him, comfort him– even when he sounds like his little world is shattering, laugh with and at him, and be frustrated that we have to change a third time before heading out the door. But I learned Monday that I can’t handle strong emotions of my own in French. As soon as I heard about the bombings, I could not speak French. It just wouldn’t happen. It startled me a little. I have become adept in these past three weeks at expressing myself even when I don’t have the full array of words I would use in English, and in doing so with great fluency. But this wasn’t about my abilities. It just felt wrong. I couldn’t be that upset, confused, afraid for my city, and worried about the location of all my loved ones in a foreign language. I needed the comfort of English, and reverting to it felt like wrapping myself in a warm blanket.
I don’t know if that will change with time, of one day the association of French with my little boy might make it an even more powerful comfort. I wonder if Nelson will one day find comfort in French like I did in English.
At times like this, there is always an inclination to help. But a situation like this one is actually quite small in terms of the necessary response, despite the tragedy that worlds have been shattered and infinitely valuable human lives lost. Please consider taking your positive energy and giving to a cause that may be neglected while the focus shifts to Monday’s bombing. Volunteering your time, donating those things that you no longer need, or making a monetary donation to an organization you trust to use to fight suffering elsewhere in our world are all great ways to prove that while some lost individuals may be terribly misguided, humanity is beautiful.