Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tragedy in Kenya: Trying to Find Some Words

I’ve spent the last few days fighting back (often unsuccessfully) tears. When I communicate about this tragedy to friends and family I find myself most often saying, “There are no words.” 

60 + dead souls, children among them, nearly 200 injured and the senseless death toll keeps mounting.  Ravi Ramrattan, a friend who was kind-hearted, whip-smart and had the kind of manner that immediately put everyone at ease.  They identified him by his shoes.  

Unthinkably, he’s now “was” not “is,” his bright future snatched from him, leaving a crater-sized hole in the hearts of people who loved him.  Those are words. And as I type them, here I go again fighting that tighting in my throat and welling in my eyes. 

Still, I need to find words. I need to find some sense or meaning out of this tragedy.  

When we first heard about this tragedy we were camping in a forest with some friends.  We were walking amid astounding beauty with our children, 3 four-year olds and 3 babies. We received information in fits and starts when cell phone reception would work.  First it was 15-20 dead. Shit. That’s gotta be a terrorist attack now.  Then it was 29.  Holy crap. Pit in the belly.  Do we know anyone? Then it was 39.  But these numbers could keep going up.  When will it stop?.  Then, 59 dead. Silence.

But it was a detail, not the numbers, that finally made that scene at the luxury mall real.  It was a "Children’s Day" at the mall - the kind of thing I might have taken my own babies to.  Some of these children were now dead. 

I was going to write something about numbers, how we interpret tragedy and risk through a narrow and almost tribal lens. How I’ve seen a lot of equally senseless and avoidable death from terror of poverty. And those numbers are higher than 60.  How, disappointingly, the truth is that it pains me more viscerally and to my core when the victims look like me - when I can picture myself and my children in that circumstance. How, as much as I think of myself as part of a truly global community, the world spins off its axis more for me when my bubble of safety and comfort is exploded. 

But forget all that. I’m not in the mood to be philosophical yet.  I just want to be sad. I want to mourn. 

All life is precious. And fleeting. And nothing is sure.  I just want to hug my family extra tight. And I want to pray to a god which I have to cling to, even though such senselessness make me doubt his existence, to bring comfort to the people who are unexpectedly burying loved ones too soon.


  1. Your post brought tears to my eyes, too, Kim. Hold tight and never lose hope!

  2. You have articulated the unspeakable. Hold everyone tight. Love, MOM

  3. Sad, tragic, terrible loss. Why does this keep happening?

  4. I've been thinking of you and your family Kim.

  5. A sad tragedy indeed ...

  6. When all the hate in the world has gone, then the sadness can stop.