Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Processing


I don't know if there is any way to kind of "speed up" the processing that you go through after traumatic (major or minor) events. If we could control it, I suppose we would choose to fall apart only when convenient. I know as a parent especially, I try to "hold it together" until another adult comes and I can go cry. But again, it isn't that easy to control.

So this month there have been a lot of various stressful events-terrorist attacks, church conflict, holiday tension....and I felt totally calm. Well, on the day of the bombing, I wanted to cry, but didn't want the kids to get upset...yet by evening, the feelings were gone.

Then with church stuff, I honestly felt at peace. But when I was physically at the church meeting, it all started coming back...just like I had to go through certain emotions when entering the metro after the terrorist attack. I had to be in the sanctuary and see the empty seats to really feel the loss.

We've got colds in our house now...we had some church friends over for fellowship last Friday, and Sophia started projectile vomiting! Heh, sorry for the visual.

I was thinking back to last year when there was also church stuff going on, and people prayed for our family, and then David broke his collarbone! Which is not to say that it was a direct correlation. BUT for Andrei to be able to stay focused in his ministry, he really needs his family life to be peaceful. Everyone being sick and cranky probably doesn't help, but there is also a lot of cooperation going on, and it could be a lot worse. Like I said, there is a lot going on...but I'd better hit publish.



Friday, April 7, 2017

The wounded


Woke up to news of U.S. airstrike on Syria. Ummm....not sure what the consequences of that are going to be!

Last night I was scrolling through FB and happened to click on a stranger's page that has a lot of friends in common with me. I ended up reading the pages of a family whose teenage daughter was wounded in this week's bombing.

As they attend one of the local churches here, a prayer chain had gone out, but now I had a face to fit the name.

Based on the posts I saw, it went like this:

-the teenager was helped out of the metro by a woman who heeded her request to go home to her parents, despite her injuries

-the girl only knew her father's cell phone number from memory, so they called her father, who called her mother to warn her that her injured daughter was about to show up on her doorstep

-they called an ambulance, which arrived in about an hour*

-the girl had some shrapnel on her leg and a ruptured eardrum, and required surgery

-her sister was having trouble getting to the hospital due to the transportation collapse, but a stranger picked her up and drove her all the way there

-the sister described an investigator coming into the hospital room and interviewing the wounded teenager and examining the blood on her clothes (to look for traces of the terrorist, the sister surmised)

-the mother shared about feeling relief that her daughter was showing interest in normal things, like food and manicures, even while still in the hospital

Often the victims of these tragedies are faceless to us, but when I imagined a terrorist's blood on my child (or sister!), I began to imagine what kind of thoughts might go through someone's head.

So, now you can kind of picture what the families of victims might be experiencing. The sun is shining outside (earlier today anyway), but the marks are still on their bodies for now.


*In St. Petersburg it is customary (and free of charge) to call an ambulance for minor illness and injury, as it is a way to get some medical attention without taking a sick person on public transportation. In this case many of the emergency vehicles had been mobilized to the attack site, and her injuries were not life-threatening, so an hour's wait probably wasn't too bad. See more in my Soviet medicine post from several years ago. http://lizinstpete.blogspot.ru/2009/01/look-back-at-soviet-medicine.html




3 days later


Sophia is 8 months old today. It's hard to believe that the bomb was just 3 days ago. It doesn't even come up in conversation anymore and we are back to complaining about the same old things.

When I've taken the time to think about it, I've been observing how many encouraging stories there have been about what happened. I guess I have a few other tragedies in my mind, like Beslan and the Moscow theater hostage situations, and those seemed to be such a mess. Maybe you can't really compare the situations....is a suicide bombing much different from an accidental explosion, in the immediate aftermath? Certainly different from dodging bullets, but still a very panicky situation, it would seem...

Since there isn't much coverage on English-language news sites, here are a few things I've been reading about:

-accounts of how calm and organized the evacuation of the metro was
-bystanders/other passengers selflessly offering first aid
-people helping each other get around the wreckage and up the escalator
-the efficiency of the medical attention
-the efforts of the city to offer additional transportation options
-the countless offers of rides and even housing to help those who were affected by the metro being closed
-stories of heroes such as the train engineer, who did everything he was supposed to do under difficult circumstances
-and just the fact that all of these procedures were in place for emergencies

Anyway, it's late...just wanted to offer this side of things. There are memorial ceremonies going on, while the investigation continues. Many of the injured are still hospitalized. But for the rest of us, it's back to normal (sort of) life.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Day after


Everything is normal. Nothing will be the same.

I spent much less time reading the news today, once I realized there was not going to be anything additional. The names of victims have been published, but I don't recognize any of them. There's been a new attack in Syria, with many more casualties-how very, very awful. :(

It feels like we're kind of isolated. Our friends and family around the world showed concern, but today it is back to business as usual. A CNN headline reads "As Russia mourns St Petersburg attack, Europe shows little solidarity." And I think I can finally agree. In the past, I felt that Russians were being too hasty to accuse the West of favoritism and/or bias, mourning one terrorist attack and not another. But I really noticed it this time. I was so sad for London, and many people were. But I do not know anyone in London. And yet, I did not feel that strangers were sad for St. Petersburg. There are probably people who haven't even heard, but that's okay, because I wouldn't pass a news quiz, either.

Some headlines tug at my heart more than others. We have to protect our emotions somehow, or we will collapse under the weight of daily tragedies around the world. But it is still interesting to see how we react differently to various news items, simply because they concern different countries or people groups. And we can't really force ourselves to feel compassion, even if we can recognize a situation that deserves it.

I scroll through Instagram, but the normal posts are too normal, and the sad posts are too sad. I want both! The condolences are formulaic, yet their absence is worse. Yesterday we had to hold it together, but when we had the chance to sit down and process, the feelings were already buried.

Andrei's students hinted at canceling classes today, but as Andrei pointed out, he had to answer to his superiors, who had not given any such order. So Andrei took the other metro line to work. He said that it was a very safe day to travel in the metro, as security measures were high. But rumors said that people had been advised to stay home. There was a lot of information being passed around, and it was frustrating that some of it was untrue.

Today was day 1 of three days of mourning.



Chance of terror


It has always seemed like terrorist attacks always occur somewhere else-even in Russia, they are usually in Moscow, or in some conflict zone. I never expected it here.

Too young to know what's going on.
14:40 The blast occurred
15:00 I knew Andrei was finishing his lectures, so I texted him to ask him to buy some bread so we could have sandwiches for lunch.
15:15 My MIL's phone rang (she was at our house), and it was Andrei calling to say there had been an explosion. The metro station nearest his work was closed, so he was headed to the other metro line.

I started notifying people that we were okay, and Nina called Vladimir (Andrei's father) to say he was safe. Vladimir started crying with relief.

I was about to burst into tears myself. I was mostly stunned into silence. David was full of energy and irritated that we were making phone calls instead of letting him play freely with Nina.

15:45 Andrei called to say he had made it halfway home but that the metro was being evacuated (seemed logical in case of other bombs, but obviously inconvenient). It's a bit disorienting trying to switch from underground to above-ground transportation, especially considering St. Petersburg is built on a serious of islands. I kept my phone nearby in case I needed to look up directions for him.

16:15 Andrei called to say that he had gotten on a bus headed to another metro station that had more transportation links.

I headed outside to buy some bread at a kiosk near our house. I felt numb, like I was sleep-walking. Our neighborhood looked the same, but people in the same city had lost their lives.