Last Monday, I could not have been more delighted to be enjoying Patriots Day with my friends, standing downtown with so many thousands of others, in awe of the athletes running the marathon. There is nothing like Marathon Monday. I don’t want to exclude anyone, but the same way New Yorkers feel about living in their city, so too must you have lived in Boston to understand what the marathon means to our community. How special. How sacred.
On top of all of this historical and community significance, Patriots Day is also a day off from work. And my glorious 3-day weekend had been utterly perfect and completely relaxing. And then, I turned away from my friends, and headed towards home, early. Because I had an appointment. I left them as they headed towards the heart of the finish line to meet up with the object of our cheering for a celebratory beer. I bumped into a friend from college as I walked towards Dartmouth Street, she too headed straight into the heart of the marathon to cheer on some runners.
A few minutes later, a loud boom. A few more minutes, and the air was pierced with wailing sirens and speeding police cars, motorcycles, ambulances. The last thing on my mind was that the marathon had been attacked. A few more minutes, and I got a phone call, just before the cell phone service was shut down. My mom, asking me where I was. And it was then that I learned I had left my friends at a bomb site, the scene of a terrorist attack. Never have I waited with such baited breath as I dialed my friends one after another, desperate to hear their voices on the other end of the line.
I was spared the worst kind of heartache, but so many others weren’t. I, and every other person in Boston, not to mention the world, shares in their pain. Those who escaped unscathed give their compassion, their money, their time and their love to the victims. But those who escaped can’t help but feel lucky that, this time, it was okay. I was so lucky this time.
This time. So what’s the takeaway? Is there something I should be learning from this awful, heartbreaking experience? The ying and yang of the world has never been so apparent to me. The evil of many, the pure goodness in so many more. The difference between one minute, and the next.
This will happen again. It happens all over the world, almost daily. People seeking to inflict pain, and cause mayhem. New Yorkers have been through this, seeing their streets, their restaurants, and their neighborhoods splashed across the news for all the wrong reasons. Oklahoma City has been through this. This time, it was my home.
Next time, it will be someone else’s home. But this sad fact of life is what makes all of us silent warriors. Each time we walk downtown unafraid, go to concerts and Red Sox games at Fenway undeterred, travel the world. Each time we follow our routine, evil loses. This time, it was no different.