This June marks my ten year anniversary of having moved to Boston. So as not to sound like a poser, we haven't lived in Boston proper for a number of years (we now live 7 miles north) but five of the best years of my life were spent on those same streets where so many people's lives changed forever last Monday. Boston is a small city. Every single person I know was exactly one degree of separation from the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
On Monday afternoon I got a text from my husband asking if I had the marathon on? I had watched it for several hours but had turned it off so that I could catch up on some DVR. When I turned the TV back to the race my heart stopped beating. How could this happen in my city? The very first thing I did was thank God that the kids and I didn't go and that Matt was safe at work. For those of you who are not from around here, the marathon really is an amazing day in the city and for many a tradition not to be missed. Matt's fraternity house sits on Beacon St, less that a 1/2 mile from the finish line. For years we could be found lining the streets and cheering on our many friends who were brave enough to take on heartbreak hill.
The second thing I did was post to facebook that we were not in harm's way and request that other people check in as well. My phone buzzed continuously with messages of love and "we are all safe" for the remainder of the night. Everyone was filled with a complicated mix of gratitude and sorrow. I can't emphasize this enough, we all knew someone running or someone watching and each of us felt that those injured could have just as easily been "one of us".
The four days that followed the bombing are sort of a blur. The news was speculative and everyone was heartbroken as we all learned the devastating details about those who had not been as fortunate. On Thursday night Matt and I actually made it to bed early and missed the breaking news that would blow up our phones all night long. On Friday morning I nursed Ben around 5:30am and when I came back to bed Matt was sitting up scrolling through his phone. He told me I had better turn on the TV, there had been more violence overnight. An MIT police officer, a 26 year old man, had been shot in cold blood in front of the Stata Center. For years, Matt's office was in that building.
Over the next 15 hours I could not turn the television off. I prayed hard that the people in question would be taken into custody before another innocent person was made a victim. When it was announced shortly after dark on Friday night that the suspect was apprehended (alive) the entire Boston community breathed a tremendous sigh of relief. What happened next still brings tears to my eyes, even days later. People of all ages lined the streets to express their gratitude to the first responders, police, FBI, and special forces who had worked so selflessly to keep us all safe. Some people criticized those seen "celebrating" on TV but let me tell you something about the people of this great city. We are proud and tough, loud and abrasive loving and loyal...and an attack on our friends was terribly humbling. When the whole ordeal was put to rest the people of Boston simply couldn't contain our gratitude and it poured out into our streets. It wrapped our neighbors, our friends, and our children in a genuine embrace of raw human emotion. It was not celebratory, it was relief expressed with a heavy heart. It was pure and it was raw, and in this blogger's humble opinion a telling snapshot of the genuine spirit that makes this city such a special place to live.
We are Boston proud.
There is a lot of healing left to be done and questions to be answered but that one thing is certain, we will remain "Boston Strong."
Here is a link to to a local news website if you are looking for suggestions on how to help the people affected by this horrible act of violence.