I can’t get this out of my head. You go to the zoo on a summer afternoon. With your wife and 6-month-old daughter. They stop on the path so you can snap a picture, and a moment later your baby is dead and your wife is permanently hurt.
The aftermath is predictable, this being the litigious, finger-pointing society that it is. There’ll be a lot of trying to blame people who work for the Park or for the zoo, for letting maintenance slide or some such, and whether that’s appropriate or not, we’ll know soon enough. But in any case, outlandish and horrible things like this happen—rarely, but they happen. Bad things. My own family made the same trip to the Central Park Zoo, a month ago, and paused at that same spot (I am fairly sure, from the photos) to admire some tulips and take a picture of our own. [UPDATE: More distressing details in the expanded Times story, here.]
Do you think about such horrible possibilities? I do, probably more than I should. I am a catastrophist by nature (my officemates know this; I often find myself assigned stories about things like earthquakes and gonorrhea-infected waterways). I linger over the feelings inspired by such a monstrous day; what our daily existence would be like afterwards; whether I’d ever be able to live some version of my life again. (Off-the-cuff answers: a whole new kind of horror; a whole new kind of darkness; I’m really not sure, but maybe eventually.) I tell myself I’m bracing for the worst, but really, it’s just introspection, because I really doubt anything prepares a person for that.
Do you think this way? Comments invited.