UPDATE: Re-published in HuffPo: Boston Bombings: How to Conquer Fear

I had no reason to be anxious on April 15th. My taxes were taken care of by my papis‘ longtime accountant Mr. Patel. The Twitter party I was organizing for Latinas for Latino Literature with Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz was under control (which was postponed). In the afternoon while procrastinating, I looked at Twitter and gasped:

Oh. My. God.

Two bombs had exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Immediately, I turned on the radio, the TV, and was glued to Twitter and Facebook, trying to make sense of the confusion, wading through the misinformation but also images of spectators’ and runners’ tear-stained faces twisted in pain and fear.

The Wise Latina Club's Viviana Hurtado: "Boston Bombings: How to Conquer Fear"

Seeking “comfort” in media saturation. Courtesy: @WiseLatinaClub Twitter feed

Then the images I wish I could “unsee” and forget–the blood: pools near the explosion, dripping down victims’ mangled limbs.

Television, especially networks, have journalists culling and editing information.

Social media is the ultimate #NoFilter.

Eyewitnesses have repeatedly said, the first “boom” and smoke caused confusion–was it celebratory fireworks, maybe a transmission or generator (albeit a big one) backfiring? But confusion yielded to certainty twelve seconds later, when the second bomb went off.

“Second takes” confirm the fear nestled in the dark recesses of memory for those who like me witnessed on live television the second plane crash into the second tower of the World Trade Center.

The Second Take bridges “this is probably an accident” to:

“Oh. My. God. This is a coordinated terrorist attack.”

As I write in The Day Everything Changed, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the noose of fear tightened around our necks:

“Even before we began to grasp the magnitude of this horror, a collective fear gripped Americans for one of the few times in our history. The most regular activities–going to the mall, boarding a train, attending a game–triggered mass anxiety. Like millions living in the world’s hotspots of Darfur, Mexican border towns, and communities in the Middle East, we collectively asked, “If I step out the door, will I come back home?”

Since September 11, 2001, paralysis has lifted. But we live suspended in a perpetual state of orange vigilance because like the morning of the terrorist attacks, we don’t know what’s next.”

We don’t know who is responsible for killing three human beings, including an eight year old boy, and maiming dozens more in Boston. We don’t know his–or her–motivation.

We do know that the noose of fear that had gone slack as we collectively let our guards down, has grown again more taut, leaving us angry as we demand answers.

Feeling helpless.

Feeling afraid.

As with 9/11 or the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Boston Marathon bombings’ victims, survivors, and their loved ones have a long and at times bumpy road of healing ahead.

For the rest of us, we can honor them by not letting anxiety and fear change our lives.

Go to baseball games and summer music festivals, but be watchful of our surroundings.

Stand up for what you believe in but never forget to speak up for the little guy.

Treat others, including strangers and opponents–who are real people first–with more compassion and empathy.

Whether it’s holding a door open for a mom with her hands full, volunteering this weekend by delivering meals to the elderly, or listening to your best friend who finds herself in a jam, help someone.

Doing something to assist another conquers fear, anxiety, or paralysis from a horror because in this simple act of selflessness, we shed powerlessness. Helping someone is an individual moment that binds us to others, exchanging the noose of fear for a tighter bond that unites us.

Resources to Help the Boston Marathon Bombing Victims

The One Fund Boston, announced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, helps those affected by the bombings.

The Red Cross‘ blood needs in Boston are met. The organization is asking people to donate money or schedule a future appointment to donate blood.

Boston Police Department (1-800-494-8477) and the FBI (1-800-CALL-FBI —prompt #3) are collecting tips, cell phone videos, and photos.

This post was re-published and can be read in the Huffington Post by clicking here.
 
Please add any resources I may have missed.

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