I held my 8-year-old daughter a bit tighter Monday night.
But it wasn’t because an 8-year-old was among the dead in the Boston Marathon terrorist attack.
She was sick and needed the comfort and watchful eyes of her parents.
It was routine in the way dealing with a sick child becomes when you know it is serious enough to monitor but not enough to allow unnecessary worry set your heart aflutter.
I had not rushed home from the office after making website updates, phone calls trying to track down people I knew from Boston, and looking at reams of photos – some of people with bloody stumps where their legs had been before the blasts – to hold my kids a little closer as we are frequently advised to do during times such as these.
I did not become contemplative, thanking God for the blessings he has bestowed upon my family and me.
I didn’t even know how to pray for the families whose lives had been torn apart by some evil we can’t yet name.
I knew I was supposed to be horrified, angry, maybe even a bit scared. Something.
I did the perfunctory things, advised readers to remain calm, to not speculate.
I told them there would be plenty of time for heated debate later about the politics and what this means about security.
I imagined how I would have reacted at the end of a marathon – knowing how physically tired and mentally drained a person is after running 26.2 miles – if explosives went off near the finish line of one of the two races I completed.
I wanted to feel.
I wanted to empathize.
There’s been so much.
The economy went into free fall and no one could say how far it would go.
I watched good friends and colleagues ushered out the door with a tap on the shoulder during what became routine rounds of layoffs.
A congresswoman and others were shot on a routine day, as were soldiers at Fort Hood.
A mad man unleashed hell during a routine opening of a Batman film.
Children were mowed down like rabid dogs on a routine day in an elementary school.
A man named Dr. Kermit Gosnell is accused of routinely murdered babies.
Reports of a bombing here, a dead soldier there, in Iraq and Afghanistan have become so routine I have to force myself to pay attention to them.
The same with bloody unrest in Libya and daily slaughter in Syria.
Even a big undetected rock falling from the sky is part of the routine we now call life.
Belittling each other. Thinking the worst of each other. Calling each other nasty names just because we can. Routine.
A planned, deadly bombing at one of the world’s most prestigious marathons has been added to the list of the routine, another of the thousands cuts.
Over most of those things, we have little to no control.
But we can make hugging our children a little tighter a little more often a part of the new routine, not just in response to the latest tragedy.
We can treat each other with more kindness as part of the new routine. We can decide to routinely love the unlovable.
Singing in the rain and laughing and purposefully enjoying the sun’s warmth just to acknowledge our daily blessings – that we are still here, that we still have choices to make, that we can make the world better, at least where we are – can be part of the new routine, too.
As can extending good will when we don’t expect any.
Because the routine of life is never just about bombings and layoffs and curses.
Because even in the midst of turmoil and the pain we sometimes feel, the shape of the routine we refer to as life is never completely out of our control.
It is what we make it.
It always has been.
It always will be.
Evil – no matter how hard or how often it tries – can never change that.