I remember reading the headline when the first bomb went off here in Austin.
The news reports made it sound like an isolated incident—until the second bomb went off days later.
That’s when the fear began to rise.
As the situation unfolded, people in the Austin area were forced into the unexpected reality that a bomb could be sitting on our front porch. There was less fear if you knew you had a package coming, but nowadays so much is shipped to our front doors that it made me pause.
Then the bombs started having tripwires. That’s when the fear was even greater still. I have two kiddos who love to go outside and suddenly I’m fearful of letting them out to play.
I’m scanning bushes and our front door for unexpected items thinking, “Could this happen to my family?”
The first bombs went off in East Austin, which is a decent distance from my house, but the longer it wore on, the more random the attacks became.
Fear continued to grow as the days went by. Family patterns and routines changed. If we had errands to run, we were more cautious. If family was coming to see us, their plans changed too.
At night, I put my kids to bed and talked with my wife about the latest developments concerning the bomber. This is not a conversation that people should have to have.
Yet this small glimpse of fear only occupied only a few days of my family’s life. It gave me a very small insight into the fear that families in Syria are experiencing every single day.
They have lived with this type fear and worse, not only for a few days, but for years—for some, their entire lives.
It pains me to think that anyone should have to live life in fear of someone else hurting them or their family. It pains me to think there are people who endure armed conflict all of their lives, who aren’t able to stay safely at home because bombs and fighting are literally all around them.
If I had to, I could have easily taken my family and moved to another location—yet many do not have that luxury. Without the means to leave, they are trapped with no escape.
My daughter asks a lot of questions about why people in Syria are fighting. She tells me her ideas on how to help. It’s hard to understand, even as an adult, what it would take for someone to leave their home, or what it would be like to go through an experience like that.
Now that the terrorism in Austin is over, my fear levels are coming down. Yet, my heart breaks to remember the people and friends across the world who live in far greater danger with their families than I have ever experienced.
But I am hopeful.
I have seen Syrian and Iraqi refugees come through our WorkWell program and learn new skills and get new jobs.
I have seen our friends provide for their families and gain stability in a situation that is riddled with unknowns.
I saw firsthand people working together to rescue neighbors after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last summer.
Joe with his bass boat showing up—not because he was told to, but because he wanted to be there.