April 16, 2013

A terrible thing

The third Monday in April is a holiday in Massachusetts. It has a name--Patriot's Day. It's also the annual day of the running of the Boston Marathon and the beginning of school vacation week for just about every child in the state.

Yesterday was Patriot's Day. For most of the day, it was beautiful, lightly sunny without being too hot. I took my daughter to the playground. I didn't know my heart was about to break.

Just before we got out of the car, ready to play and enjoy the afternoon, my husband called to tell me that two bombs had exploded on Boylston street, just past the marathon's finish line. Dozens of people were gravely wounded. Three would die.

On days like yesterday, and today in the aftermath, Boston is everyone's city. But every day, I think of it as mine. I went to school there, lived there, worked there, and still go there regularly. I like to think I grew up there.

I've walked down the street where the bombs exploded hundreds of times. When I was in college, I used to play with my pep band on a platform just past the finish line, entertaining the runners and their families while they cried, hugged, cheered, and laughed. One year, I stood in that very spot while I waited for a friend to finish running. He made it across the line in just over four hours, about the same time the bomb went off this year.

To my knowledge, no one I know personally was injured yesterday. But they could have been. Any number of friends could have been there, and have been in the past. I could have been there.

But I wasn't, and though I'm safe, I'm no less devastated. So many people were there.

It's hard to know what to think on these days, and scary to feel like we have so much practice at it lately. I'm glad it hasn't gotten any easier.

Something is wrong with people and the world seems to be escalating in its cruelty.

There is a hole in our library and a bigger one in our hearts.

Soon, they'll fix the damage to our buildings and our streets. Our hearts will take longer, as we grieve all that we've lost, including a child, a grad student from my own alma mater, and a vibrant woman not yet thirty years old.

But hearts will mend and they will be stronger. Boston will be stronger, and that's saying something. If it's possible for the person or people responsible to be found, our city will find them. If it's impossible, I still think they'll find them.

Cowards perpetrated a crime, a tragedy against our city. It's so awful that just one or a few sick individuals can cause so much damage. Be so unimaginably heartless. It's hard not to dwell on that, but I try not to. Because scores of heroes emerge in times like these. The first responders, the perfect strangers helping others, my friend who spent the most horrific day of her career as an ER nurse at Boston Medical Center fighting to save lives and limbs.

I try to take heart in that, to focus on all the sheer goodness that is out there.

We are strong. We will be stronger.

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