MOODY: ‘Look for the helpers’: Lessons from Boston

Susan Moody, Emerald Coast Insider

I am a New Englander.

As my college roommate so eloquently put it, Boston has always been the geographical center and reference for our lives. We went to college “outside of Boston," I grew up 50 miles from Boston, it was “the big city” when everything in our adolescent and young adult lives looked so small.

Boston was where I saw the Nutcracker, U2, The Red Sox, The Celtics, and The Bruins. Patriot’s Day and The Boston Marathon were special events for a city that understood what made events special. As I logged into social media Monday afternoon to see how friends running the marathon were fairing, I, like everyone else, watched the tragedy unfold.

Alex turned eight this week, and he was born on Patriot’s Day. I always thought this would make him a Red Sox fan, but this, in fact, may not be the case.

Whatever his baseball allegiance may be, eight seems like a particularly awkward age for discussing “big things." I feel he is too old to be shielded from the events of the day, but not quite old enough to grasp the full tragedy.

I know every child is different, and every child processes things differently, and I was definitely navigating unchartered waters. At eight, his world view had become both bigger, more aware of the world around him, and smaller, more focused on discovering his place in it.

I didn’t want him hearing about the events from anyone but us, and I wanted to make sure our discussions were age appropriate and tailored to his emotional level. All the experts suggested finding out what he knew, so that’s where we started.

As we talked about the day’s events, the conversation inevitably turned to how likely would it be that this could happen here, to him, to his friends, to his family, and what then, should he do? Once again seeking advice and inspiration, I turned to Mr. Rogers. Like every other parent, I was relieved to find his sage advice peppering the Internet.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

What the Boston Marathon tragedy taught us was that helpers come in so many shapes and sizes. First responders rushing into the chaos, runners heading straight for the hospital to donate blood, veterans and active duty military springing into action to triage the wounded and reunite families, helpers doing what they do best. 

As the week progressed, I think we all took comfort in Mr. Rogers’ wisdom, even more so as Thursday turned into Friday, and our beloved Boston was on lockdown. "Boston Strong" was trending, and thoughts and prayers went out to friends and families waiting and watching in and around Boston.

More thoughts and prayers went to the men and women of Boston Police Department, Mass Transit, the FBI and all the first responders and their families who were once again walking into danger. I, like many others, found comfort in the image of the Boston Police Officer delivering milk to a family with young children. Helpers are everywhere and bravery is found in unexpected places.

Boston strong, indeed.

Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at