By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Apr 15, 2013 at 11:28 PM

I’m probably not the only person out there with an uncomfortable sense of deja vu right now.

The city is different, and so is the death toll, but the last time I sat up when I should be sleeping, glued to CNN listening to reporters saying the same thing over looped video tape, it was Sept. 11, 2001.

Maybe the biggest difference is that we have Twitter now, so people, myself included, can send out short, disjointed messages to no one in particular. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it any better.

Last night, while giving my 4-year-old daughter a bath, she asked me about tornados and if they’re real. I said yes, but not in a "Wizard Of Oz" sort of way. She asked me if they can kill people. I said yes, and I told her about the tornado that just barely missed our cabin Up North last summer. I told her that it killed a man in his mobile home, that we need to take tornados seriously, but if we go in the basement, we should be OK.

My goal was to gradually explain about this kind of stuff, since she’s been fixated on death and God and heaven lately. She’s asked me a lot of questions, and I’ve tried to answer as truthfully as possible.

Then she asked me why God lets bad things happen to good people. I certainly didn’t expect to have this existential conversation so soon.

Of course, she knows nothing about the explosions in Boston, and I’m glad we had this conversation yesterday and not today. It would’ve made a difficult conversation even harder.

Thing is, I feel just as confused explaining this stuff to a little person as I do trying to understand it myself.

I want answers, even when there aren’t any. I want revenge like everyone else does, but I know that punishing whoever is responsible won’t bring back the people who died. Justice won’t re-attach the limbs that were blown off. I know I’ll never forget that gruesome image of that pale man in the wheelchair missing both of his legs. I’m not even slightly connected to this event, and I feel guilty for even expressing my own sadness and anger, because how I feel doesn’t matter to the people in Boston, who are surely asking the same questions and feeling the same pain, but much worse.

No, I don’t understand why people commit these heinous acts, or why they think killing innocent people is the right way to advance a cause. I don’t know who did it, and I feel terrible about wondering if it would "better" if this was an act of Al-Qaeda instead of a lone wolf.

I also find myself fixated on the little details. I see video of a woman raising her hands as she’s about to cross the finish line, then spinning around in confusion. Or the 78-year-old man, who had just run 26.2 miles, crumpling down to the ground.

Or runners who had nearly completed the most difficult physical task of their lives, preparing to celebrate, then sprinting away from an explosion.

Or running back to help.

Or, amazingly, running straight to the hospital to donate blood.

Or that amazing Google Doc of thousands of Bostonians, offering up their homes to strangers, posting their personal information on the Internet for anyone to see. I’ve never seen such selflessness.

I can’t make sense of it, but the only thing that offers me a tiny bit of relief is that when looking at examples like this, I know the terrorists haven’t won.

For me, when I don’t understand something, I tweet or start writing and use as my cathartic vehicle.

But there’s no neat and tidy way to wrap this up this blog post.

I. Don’t. Understand.

Do you?

Seriously, if I don’t stop myself, I’ll stay up all night, watching more CNN, tweeting disjointed random thoughts. Watching that video over and over again. Seeing that camera man joining police in pulling down barricades to get to the carnage. Wondering what I’d do if I was there.

I felt like a switch was flipped on 9/11. A point of no return. Frankly, I expected a whole lot more of this kind of stuff, so I’m not exactly surprised by the events that occurred today.

And that’s all I got. If I was really, really honest with my daughter – and at this age, it would be wrong to share this – I would tell her I don’t think there is rhyme or reason why bad things happen to good people.

Which isn’t a very satisfying answer. It just is what it is.

Tragic. Maddening. Crushing. Inexplicable.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.