This is a re-post of what I wrote last year after the Bombing with a photograph of this year’s finish line. I’m so proud of Boston. I’m so proud of us.
Here we are at the end of a surreal week that was filled with horrific events and unspeakable anxiety. I have been unable to string a phrase together and my response to the Boston Marathon bombings has surprised me. As humans we must have only a certain amount of crisis coping that we are able to do. I have been aware of feeling despondent more than depressed. I was not aware of feeling threatened so much as vulnerable. And broken.
Worst of all was the broken feeling—as an individual and as a society. But if there is one thing that I have learned from being laid bare by grief after the loss of my daughter is that we all have coping mechanisms and we employ them differently. Mine happens to be a gallows humor at times of exquisite pain and then the gift (and I do believe this was the greatest ‘gift’ of all) of being able to find a silver lining in most painful experiences. I seek it. It becomes part of my process of coping to simultaneously find the humor and the tenderness in in any crisis. Without the humor and the ability to see the lessons, however small they might be, I find I am not able to process the pain. Perhaps I heal vicariously watching others reaching out and doing good deeds. Operating from their heart.
In a senseless act of violence such as we experienced last week in Boston it is hard to find a silver lining. I still cannot think of a silver lining around those two troubled boys who are responsible for this other than the fact that they have now been caught. I find myself thinking about their mother, their family, their friends. I was not overcome so much by the horror of the photographs of the injuries and the crowds as I was by the humanity of the effort that went into the effort at the scene of the bombings and then the picking up the pieces in the days afterwards and then the manhunt on Friday followed by the Red Sox game on Saturday. Over and over again what brought me to tears and kept me there was the humanity that I saw over and over in our dear town. While holding ourselves up and preparing for battle we collectively were in this crucible together. United.
Stoicism is a large part of the Boston tradition. We are tough. It is my opinion that New Yorkers present with a lot of tough on the surface but they are much more emotionally accessible than Bostonians. We go tough to the bone. Not necessarily a good thing yet it has served us well. It served us well this past week. I have not heard about crowds being trampled. All I hear of is coordinated efforts that over and over again have made clear how many lives and limbs were saved because of being mindful and quick thinking. Runners unable to complete the marathon who changed course and ran the 2 additional miles to the hospital to give blood. This is Boston. We are tough. Wicked tough. Pissa tough.
Granted there is a time and a place for emotion. The first responders on Monday had to move almost on instinct. From the primal place of fight or flight. Most came at it from the fight position. They moved quickly and purposefully into the terror and methodically and collectively worked together to triage, support, dismantle bombs, clear the site, and help in whatever way they could. All heroes. From the spectators that slowly moved away without panic to the folks to helped the uninjured yet very exhausted runners to the most obvious first responders at the site. All heros. All working from their gut. From their sense of right. From a strong sense of purpose and humanity. I keep coming back to that and those moments of humanity are what touch me. They made me proud to be a Bostonian.
My tears are still confusing. But they are triggered by the humanity. They were triggered by Sweet Caroline played at Yankee Stadium by a team that we love to hate and who love to hate us and yet we all not so secretly know that we are in this together. And at least for the vociferous Yankee and Red Sox fans they love baseball and they love America. Triggered again by Neil Diamond’s surprise visit to Fenway Park to lead the seventh inning stretch and traditional signing of his ‘Sweet Caroline’ by singing it live. Of his own volition.
My sad tears this week have been for how we failed these two boys. The first who seems to have veered way off the track years ago and the second who was following his brother. There are so many on the wrong path and THAT is what is sorrowful. The damage they did is horrific (there I go with that word). But the biggest horror to me when looking at them is that we are failing as a society. We lose our innocence bit by bit when these things happen so close to home. We don’t consider ourselves as Americans to be living in a war zone. We feel isolated and safe. While relatively true is it arrogant of us. The actual death and casualty rate from Monday’s bombing is a daily occurance in other parts of the world. What blew most of us away is not even that it happened to civilians but that it happened here. On Patriot’s Day. I won’t politicize. It is not my place nor do I feel I am equipped enough to make a statement beyond that. But the humanity. The humanity of everyone in this town that often does not show it, THAT really gets me.
This week as we turn our minds to healing and moving forward I plan to celebrate Boston just a wee bit more. To look even more closely for the silver lining at every turn. Spring is here. April 22, 2013. Our city is springing back to life. The magnolias are in full bloom on Commonwealth Avenue. The Swan Boats are making their gentle circles around the Public Garden. Window boxes are full of life, bulbs are blooming. Life is happening all around us. I plan to jump back in and let the beauty and humanity around us in this great town raise my spirits day by day.