Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Thoughts on the Boston Marathon Bombing

It's hard to really put how I feel down into words.

It's stupid and it's trite, but it's true. It's hard to really say what it's like to be a Bostonian who is now rounding out her second year in New Hampshire, hearing the news. But the more I write things out, the less helpless I feel. So here we go.

I will never be able to properly describe how it felt hearing from fellow teachers yesterday that someone had bombed the Boston Marathon. Or the feeling that I was going to crawl out of my skin until I could confirm the hearsay. Or the numbness I felt when I darted onto a staff computer, only to learn that the carnage was real. And worse than what people were saying.

I can say that I spent the remainder of my day semi-joking about how I was "wigging out" on the inside, only to drive around for a half hour after work, drifting in and out of crying, finding myself almost laughing during my more lucid moments.

I can describe how it felt to finally go home, turn on the television, open my laptop, and find the President of the United States talking about the resiliency of my beautiful city -- as well as the legions of people I've known since forever checking in, letting everyone know that they were safe.

I can describe it if only because there is no other way to describe it: I felt like a floodgate had been opened, and I became completely and totally undone.

I spent the better part of the evening crying. I cried in a way that I hadn't felt since, oddly enough, 9/11. I cried for so many different reasons -- reasons that didn't even become apparent to me until I calmed down enough to see what was in front of me.

I cried out of sorrow. This was a given. I cried for the runners and the spectators and the families. I cried for the Sandy Hook families in the VIP tent who had survived the unthinkable only to have another happen right beside them. I cried for the 8-year-old boy who lost his life. I cried for those who lost limbs, for those not expected to survive the night. I cried for the people who were injured, who were photographed, videoed, being carried off into wheelchairs and stretchers and ambulances. I cried because I wanted nothing more than to be with my incredible city in its hour of need, and I couldn't.

I cried out of anger. I found myself saying over and over, "Who would do something like this?" What type of sick, twisted, horrid human being would decide to ruin a day meant for pride and love and overcoming obstacles. What type of horrid human being would do something purely to make innocent people feel a little less safe than they already do?

I cried for my vulnerability. I cried because it meant that, once again, we are not exceptions to the rule. We are not people in a bubble, watching as acts of violence are bestowed upon the rest of the world. We are just as likely to be attacked, hurt, terrorized, as anyone else. This is no longer about another country, or another state, or even another city. This happened here. Where you once lived. On the streets that you once walked on a daily basis. And there's nothing stopping anyone from repeating the act on the street you live on now.

I cried out of relief. Relief that those I knew and loved were safe and sound. One finished the marathon not even 30 minutes before the blast. Another was barely a 1/4-mile away from the finish line when the blast went off. Another was in the bleachers at the time of the blast, but somehow made it out unscathed. I cried for relief, and I cried out of guilt for those who weren't as lucky as me.

But I also cried for the goodness in humanity. I cried because, when the first blast went off, police officers, EMTs, fire fighters, and ordinary civilians rushed towards the explosion, thinking only of those who had been hurt and what they can do to help. I think of the people who opened their doors to runners who had no where to go. The people who flooded the Red Cross with calls about what they can do to help, how they can donate, or when they can give blood. I cried because in the midst of a select few proving how dark and brutal of a species we can be, there were people proving just how good and beautiful we are as well.

And I cried out of love. I cried because, for once, I understood the full extent of the deep and unconditional love I have for my city. This is my city, perfect in all its quirks and imperfections. And I'm so proud to say I was born here, at one of the best hospitals in the world. So proud to say that I grew up in a town just south of Boston, where I spent countless weekends, evenings, summertimes, immersed in this "little city". So proud to say that this is where I went to school, so proud that I was some small part of the reason why Boston is considered a college city. I'm proud to have lived, worked, grew up, loved in this city. I'm proud to say that I get butterflies in my stomach every time I see a picture of the Boston skyline, and a lump in my throat when I see it in person. This is my city, and I love it with all my heart and soul.

As President Obama said: "Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people." As my husband joked: "The last time someone attacked Boston, we toppled the greatest empire of the age." This city has and will always bounce back. This is a city that has been burned to the ground, only to rebuild bigger and stronger. Rest assure that I'm not the only one who feels a deep-seeded need to train like hell, if only to run in next year's marathon.

Next year, we'll need more than a Marathon Monday. We'll need Marathon Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, to accommodate all the people who will want to run -- running if only to prove that you cannot stop a Bostonian.

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