Writing this piece was therapy for me. I realized how much I needed to share these thoughts after a third grader in my class came up to me expressing how much he didn’t want to live in New England because “people die here” and he didn’t want anyone to try to hurt him. He kept repeating: “three people died and a hundred people were hurt” and “an 8 year old kid was killed”. He had tears in his eyes and the students within ear shot began to get scared and tear up as well.
I wanted to cry, too, as I had been doing for three days, but I held it together, and explained to them as best I could that they should not worry and to talk to their parents when they get home. I somehow found an ounce of resolve to keep them and myself calm, and I held onto that as I wrote. When I finished, I could breath again.
Up until the last few months, Boston had been my home for five years, and before then I lived only 50 minutes away. It is where most of my loved ones live and work.
I came home from work at around 3:30 to the news already on in my house and my stomach instantly dropped. I sat watching, paralyzed, trying to wrap my head around all my friends and loved ones who I knew were in the area. I didn’t know how to begin reaching out – who to call first – until I saw my old place of employment on the news just two blocks from the initial blast. I immediately picked up my phone and reached out to my old employers and friends who were in the area. I texted my brother to make sure he wasn’t spectating, and constantly refreshed and scrolled through my Facebook feed as friends updated their statuses to let us know they were safe – tagging others they knew were safe as well. It was nearly three hours of frantic texting and phone calls before I finally crawled in bed and fell asleep out of exhaustion.
Really, it was the text from my brother that sent me other the edge. He, my two nephews, and my father were on their way to Copley when it happened. I broke down in tears of fear and relief. So many of my family and friends escaped danger by hours, minutes, and even seconds. I thank God for their safety.
I’ve heard that tragedies and attacks like this effect one differently when they happen in ones own home. I never doubted that, but I also never understood it fully. I know the events this past Monday do not compare in scale to those of 9/11 (although a life lost is a life lost), but I now understand what so many New Yorkers must have been going through that day –paralyzed with fear and confusion, and desperately trying to get hold of loved ones – sometimes in vain.
It’s been a confusing few days, especially as we do not yet know who orchestrated this terror attack*, or why. What we do know is that Bostonians are strong, and the energy in Boston can be overwhelming at times. We don’t always talk to each other, and we often complain about the weather, the T, crazy drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, early bar closures, etc., but we love our city, and we work well together to support and defend it.
I’ve never been much of a distance runner but I know what running means for so many people. It’s an expression of freedom, strength, solidarity, and so much more, and it certainly does not warrant violence. I have no doubts that next year’s Boston Marathon will be even bigger, with more support from around the world than ever before.
To my friends and family: I love you, and to my fellow Bostonians and New Englanders: let’s kick some ass.
* I wrote this with the intention of posting it today; however, last night’s and this mornings events had me glued to the TV, radio, and police scanners. I’m happy and proud to report the second suspect is custody after a 20+ hour manhunt through Boston’s suburb of Watertown. I could not be more proud of Boston, Cambridge, and Watertown residents for their strength today, of those who selflessly rushed in after the bombings to assist the injured, and of Boston and Watertown police departments, FBI, MA and NH State Troopers, and all other uniformed personnel for their dedication today and for keeping us safe.
They are truly heroes. Truly Boston’s Finest.
And now, let’s laugh again: One Night Stand Goes Awry in Lockdown Boston