Dear Katherine Russell Tsarnaev,
Even though we’ve never met and I’m certain we’ll never cross paths, we have some experiences in common. I’ve been thinking about you and am sharing my thoughts, which I hope will help comfort you after the horrible shock you must have endured since the Boston Marathon bombing.
It’s not our ages, as you’re only 24 and I’m in my sixties. It’s not our religion as you’re a Muslim and I’ve been a Unitarian since I was fifteen. It’s not rejecting or sticking to commonly held social norms, as you’ve adopted Muslim dress and mores and I’ve always been comfortable with the American culture in which I grew up.
When I was young and had just met the man whom I would marry, I ignored my mother’s disapproval of my new boyfriend, finding him captivating, artistic, and charming. I was a rabid anti-smoker, but even so, I didn’t even mind that he smoked cigarettes. Everything he did and all that he was passionate about fascinated me. Engrossed in his interests, I became more knowledgeable in those new areas than I would have without him. I learned the Latin names for alpine plants and made new friends that were active in the Rock Garden Society. Painting and sculpture became a larger part of my life, as he considered himself an artist, although he hadn’t created any works of art for years.
In 2005, I was shocked when Federal Agents stormed into our home and arrested my husband for possession of child pornography. Your own experience was so much graver in that Tamerlan was killed. My husband was merely detained and sentenced to ten years in prison. I haven’t seen him since.
You’re fortunate that you weren’t considered to be part of the terrorist plot, after the initial scramble to figure out what had happened. The federal authorities spent the two years following my husband’s arrest by intimidating and threatening me, assuming I knew more than I actually did. They found nothing, although it seemed as if they would never give up. Each week there was a new danger. Then, finally, the prosecutor casually said to my lawyer, almost as an afterthought, that I could keep my house.
My cheeks tingled. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard. They really were going to leave me alone. Their bullying and threats were finally over, but such an experience isn’t finished as soon as it’s officially completed. Today, I still feel threats and sense danger from a siren or sudden noises on the road, although there’s no authority coming after me now.
I hope you can see what I think we have in common, as well as what’s completely different. And although eight years has passed for me, I have recovered, with a new life and interests. I believe that there is hope for you too, in the future.
I’m sorry that you’ve suffered with the loss of your husband, who you probably loved. I know I defended my husband at first, even though when I was able to see the world more clearly, I knew that he was not the unfortunate artist that had been picked on by the vicious authorities.
Our son was twenty-four in 2005 and the arrest of his father has been very hard on him, although he would probably deny this statement. It takes a huge amount of effort and work, assistance and kindness from many people to recover from such a terrible experience. Your child is very young and you have time to decide how you’ll handle telling her about what happened.
I hope you’re able to recover and eventually put these events behind you, and become the person you can be, without the haunting memory of this time coloring everything you do. I wish for you to have the support you need to recapture the essence of yourself and your comfort with the world in which you live.
Very best wishes,
A very understanding letter. Nicely done.
Well thought out…and nicely done.
On Wed, Jun 5, 2013 at 4:31 PM, hostile-entry
You explain well how traumatic the events of 2005 were for you and your son. i love the way you relate your own experiences to another woman whose husband deceived her.
Very perceptive comment, Catherine. Thanks, Gabi for your accurate observation.
Jane, this is such an insightful and compassionate communication and your reaching out, even in prose only, is brave and touching. Bravo. Morgan
I truly appreciate your well thought out and researched content. You’ve really hit a home run on this topic. I agree with you. I hope you plan on writing more articles. I will read them.