The events at the Boston Marathon on Monday were, no doubt, horrifying. I spent from about 4 o’clock until 10 googling, reading tweets, and watching the news, taking a break only to attend a Prayer Service at Stonehill for the victims of the tragedy. By the end of the day my head was throbbing, I was mentally exhausted… the image of the blast playing over and over throughout the day, the violent noise blaring through the television speakers, and the general confusion of “how could somebody do such a thing?” was causing my head to spin. This attack hit way too close to home for us here in Massachusetts. I can only imagine what it was like for the people who had to witness all of this first hand.
What was most troubling on Monday were all of the people in my life who could have been there, but for whatever reason were not. When my class was cancelled on Monday, I considered going into Boston to watch the marathon… but because I have my PICC line this week, I had meds that would have had to be hooked up during the race, and considering how sensitive I am to the sun from all of my meds, I decided not to go. My friends were in Boston, and had they left 10 minutes earlier to take the T to the finish line after watching their friends go by… they would have been right there. I got a text update that a friend had crossed the finish line just 5 minutes before the explosion. My cousin’s husband, a Boston cop, would have been stationed right at the finish line, but he missed his shift that morning due to a delayed flight. I had lunch with a friend yesterday who was so close to the second blast that the smoke blew in her face. With all of these stories, it makes you so thankful that life plays out as it does. A few minutes, a few yards, a chance decision could have meant that anyone could have been in the vicinity of the explosions. I have never been so thankful for my friends as I was when I got that text that they were okay. It really makes you thankful for your life and the lives of the people you care about… Monday’s tragedy is a huge reminder that every day is not guaranteed. I am sure many people who were there are living their lives with a little more gratitude and appreciation.
The people who lost their lives were innocent victims, there to celebrate a day that goes down in infamy each year in Boston. Nothing can replace their lives and it will be hard to ease the heartache of their families. As for the people injured, there is a long road ahead, particularly for the 17 in critical condition. For those who survived, many will now live their lives without legs, feet, and may be disabled in other ways… not to mention the trauma that will haunt them forever. There are no words that can be said to make what they went through any easier. This was a horrible tragedy. But I know those who have died will be memorialized and remembered as the beautiful people they were. And I know those who survive will be celebrated as strong survivors. A doctor interviewed at Mass General Hospital said the people with whom he came into contact were so very brave.
What hasn’t been said enough, and I think needs to be, is that this event shouldn’t underscore the victory of all of the runners that day. As a runner myself, I know what its like to cross the finish line of a difficult race that you have trained so hard for. Thousands of people completed a 26.2 mile course, the hardest course in the world, and had to quietly forget about their victory. There were also many people who couldn’t finish the race and humbly walked home. I don’t want this horrible attack to take away from the fact that many people did an amazing thing on Monday, that’s what this terrorist(s) wants. Congratulations to all of the runners. The Boston Marathon is supposed to be a day filled with celebration and the satisfaction of rising to the challenge. Instead, it was filled with despair and grief. But I want all of the runners to know that this act of terror cannot undermine the hard work they put into this race.
Whether they have come out and said it or not, Monday’s actions were an act of terror. It was meant to cause fear. Whether or not it was al Qaeda, another terrorist group, a domestic extremist group, or just an evil person determined to cause a scene… this was an act of terror. And what they want is for us to be afraid. But instead, Boston has shown that we stand together against violence. The first responders who ran towards the explosion, the heroes who offered their assistance, and the vigilance of all of the people working to find out who did this just shows that we will not stand for violence in our city, in our country, and in our world.
Yesterday, I had an appointment in Boston. On Monday, we wondered whether or not it would be safe to go into the city. But you cannot think those thoughts, that’s what whoever did this wants. So we went into Children’s Hospital like we would on any other day. Yes, there was a heavy police presence at the hospital, you couldn’t help but notice all of the flags at half-mass, the Boston Electrician’s Union’s billboard “COWARDS” was displayed prominently on Route 93, and you couldn’t get through the day without talking about what happened… but what gave me hope was that everyone was going about their lives, not letting what happened change that. It was a beautiful day, people were outside, going to work, and going to school. It gave me hope that the City of Boston will arise out of this even stronger than they were before.
To all those affected, please know you have the support of a nation of people who will stand up against violence. With all tragedies, there is something to be learned. And I think we can all see that this tragedy taught us what an amazing city we live in and around, and what incredible heroes come out of Boston, Massachusetts.