I’m upset. We all are. As someone who was not directly affected by a friend or family member killed or injured, the sadness that dwells in my heart still lingers, but is slowly being replaced. My life continues. Last night I went to a concert, arguably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen put on by Timeflies – a two man group who got their education down the road at Tufts – at the House of Blues. In the middle of the show, several first responders, one of whom went to high school with the band’s lead singer, came onto stage. It was the loudest roaring of applause I’ve ever heard. In this city, that means something.
I’ve gone back and forth with my emotions. I don’t know what to feel.
To a degree, I’m scared – perspective becomes a bit sharper, words and actions sting or comfort a little more than average, but awareness most of all is on guard and red alert when tragedy strikes so close to home.
It hit hardest when I realized what might have been. I’ve always wanted to go to the Red Sox Patriot’s Day 11 am game, as well as the Boston Marathon. Patriot’s Day may well be the best day every year in Boston. It’s filled with joy – of both the sober and drunken variety – and camaraderie. No one cares about anything else but loving each other, their sports teams, and the city we’re all so proud to call our own. I’ve always wanted to experience it, and I just turned 21 so this seemed like the year to go. Instead, my priorities shifted and I spent time with people I care about over the weekend, neglecting a story I had to get done for work and suffering for it on Monday by not being able to go into the city. I would’ve gone to the Red Sox game, had the time of my life, and wandered straight over to the finish line to join in the pure joy and elation of families, friends, and runners celebrating such incredible accomplishments. I would’ve gotten there just around the time the first bomb went off. I would’ve been standing right there. I could be dead right now.
Had I survived the blast, I wouldn’t have run. I’m too stupid to do that. I would’ve thrown my own neck on the line like every other brave hero out there and tried to save someone’s life since mine was fortunate enough to be spared. I’m no hero, but I would’ve tried pretty hard last Monday.
Instead I’m writing about it, trying to figure everything out. Part of me feels blessed, part of me feels guilty. Why them, not me? Why an 8-year-old boy? Why?
To a degree, I’m angry. I want to fight. But not fight like war – no, more violence is the last thing we need (although to be fair if I met this punk on the street he’d have a few teeth less than an old time Bruin, but that’s besides the point). I want to be in the middle of it. I wish I were one of those cops or first responders – one of Boston’s Finest – being out there making a difference. I feel helpless. I want to fight for everything that’s good in this world, not promote this cowardly act and the losers behind it.
So that’s why I’m writing this, I guess. Partially for you, whoever you are reading this, to encourage you. Smile at someone today. Hold a door for someone, whether they need it or not.
When I was younger and trying to understand death, grown ups told me people died because God wanted them to come home. As I got a little older, they explained everyone was here for a purpose. Sometimes, you’ve fulfilled your purpose at a much younger age than any of us would like, so God lets you come home and join Him in eternal paradise and happiness.
What these terrorists tried to do was exactly what’s been happening so far – they wanted to scare us. they wanted us to be uncomfortable. They wanted us to be angry. They wanted us to pay – God knows what for. They’re succeeding.
We cannot let that happen.
When little 8-year-old Martin Richard saw his father cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon, he was so excited that he ran out from the sidewalk and embraced his father in a hug to congratulate him. He then ran back over to his mother and sister on the sidelines as his father went to go get the medal he rightfully deserved. Just as he got there, the bomb went off.
The terrorists want us to remember the fear that overwhelmed us, the grief that swept us off our feet, and the anger that has embraced us in the hours and days that have followed.
That’s not how this can be remembered.
Instead of fear, be strong. Hold those you love close and know that love will overcome. Instead of grief, celebrate the life you still have, and the difference these poor, innocent victims have made on our lives this week alone – we’ve all come together, we’ve all worked as one, and we’ve all united in a time where a weaker, less capable community would fall apart. And instead of anger, kill these cowardly fools with kindness. Try, somewhere in your hearts, to forgive them. Pray for them. May God have mercy on their souls, and may they forever live with pain and suffering we’ve experienced burdening their already distorted hearts.
We can start with 8-year-old Martin. He had so much life to live, so much potential ahead of him. Instead, the memory of his last few moments – pure, innocent, unequivocal love and joy will be his lasting image of this attack.
You can huff, you can puff, but you can’t blow Boston down. We are Boston Strong. So was Martin Richard.
Pray, Love, Remember. Don’t let them win.