The Boston Marathon bombings continue to reverberate, especially for those of us who live in the area. It will take many months, if not years, to reach a sense of closure. And yet, we survive. It's spring in New England. Migrant birds are returning; forsythia, magnolia, and daffodils are all in bloom.
Writers have their own ways of coming to terms with trauma and grief. Here, we've selected quotes from TW authors that illuminate the struggle to understand. These and other essays from past issues touch on the difficulties of putting loss into words—and the power of those words to heal — Martha Nichols and Elizabeth Langosy
“September 11: Why I Write” by Ken Hertz:
The act of writing itself seemed invested with new urgency. I questioned my prior writing goals: Would it even be okay to write about seemingly trivial subjects? Did the very fact of 9/11—starkly visible to me in the form of a still-smoldering hole in the city as I flew down the Hudson—now mean that every writing effort must be directed toward producing a work of larger importance?
“Teaching Writing When the Unimaginable Happens” by Lorraine Berry:
In discussing Columbine with these young people, who were close in age to my own children, all my arrogant certainty came crashing down. These kids could be our friends, my students said; this could be our school.
"The Brambles of Life" by Li Min Mo:
When I write, I find shards of my father, bits and pieces of the villages of my past, and the mysteries hidden in the bones of those who gave their lives for their beliefs. I connect with my ancestors and give shape to my memories, dreams, and visions.
“Regarding the Golden Monster” by Wm. Anthony Connolly:
We are broken vessels. Only where the light shines through does the beauty of knowing reveal itself—we are imperfect and limited. Only in working with the pieces, the assistance of others, our inexact remembering, does a creature emerge, particle by particle, wave by wave, before finally settling into something recognizable.
"Widow Books" by Fran Cronin:
The first time I tried to give away his clothes, I broke down in tears. I had barely pulled away from the curb when I turned around and retrieved all I had left at the used clothing consortium. Once back in my possession, they were sentenced to a decade of confinement in a dusty box. I have finally donated them to Goodwill.
"Prayer for Caitlin" by Laurie Weisz:
My life would never have been this particular life without Caitlin in it. She has a stone on the ground in a sleepy cemetery in New Hampshire, but she will live inside me forever. That, to me, is a kind of reincarnation, the essence of a self inside a self, whether it gets translated through DNA or through the voices people leave behind.
"Earth’s the Right Place for Love" by Lorraine Berry:
I knew what shell shock looked like now, how eyes go blank, empty of light. Hands flail at the air. A vacuum forms in a room of nineteen young students who have just realized they are mortal.
"Where Were You When the News Came?" by Martha Nichols:
Of course it was me turning the birds and clouds into the spirits I needed. Of course. I am like any human down the March of Time, seeking answers in the stars and the crackle of lightning.
Thanks to photographer Mary Dineen, who lives in the Boston area, for contributing and helping to select these images.