When the explosions rocked the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, 2013 at 2:50 p.m., I was sitting at my desk at work.
I wasn’t at the finish line in Copley Square, or watching runners along the route of the marathon. My town wasn’t one of those locked down during the manhunt last Friday. None of my friends were running the marathon, and thankfully, no one I know was injured.
Like many others throughout the Boston area, I was not directly affected by this terrible tragedy. I know that I feel a speck of the pain, confusion and fear that all those who were at the marathon are experiencing. That fact alone made me wonder if I had any right at all to try to write something about these horrible events.
But as I watched the nonstop news coverage of the bombings, I was plagued by the same sense of pain and confusion and fear that many in Boston were feeling. I was shocked to see the panicked face of a high school classmate, crying as she frantically searched for family members at the finish line, replayed over and over again on the news. I was pained to see the smiling faces in photos of the three innocent victims. Like so many in Boston and around the world, I wondered what brings someone to kill innocent people. Wondered…why?
And we may never know why three innocent people, including an 8-year-old boy, were killed. Or why hundreds more were injured and their lives forever altered. But after one of the most terrifying weeks in Boston’s history, it is clear how the city will move on: together.
I am a transplant to this city. My family moved to Boston from New Jersey when I was six years old, for my dad’s job. I don’t have the accent; I pronounce the letter “r” and have never declared anything “wicked cool.” I still get lost on the city’s confusing and winding streets. I was probably the only person in the New England area to cheer when the New York Giants beat the Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.
Last Thursday morning I watched a live stream of the interfaith prayer service at Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross with my coworkers in our conference room. And when President Obama told the audience, “I join you in saying: ‘Boston, you’re my home,’ ” my eyes welled up with tears that I tried to keep from spilling over.
Because I love cheering on the underdog Red Sox and singing “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park. Because I love riding the Green Line on the T (the oldest subway in America), no matter how many times I lose my balance and fall over as the driver goes too quickly through the narrow and twisting tunnels. Because I love that our mayor checked himself out of the hospital just days after surgery, and took to a wheelchair to go help his city without a thought for his own recovery. Because the spirit of this city, which is often seen as arrogant and even ridiculous by others, couldn’t be crushed by these horrific events.
And that spirit was bolstered by the support of the entire nation. Other Major League Baseball teams—even the rival Yankees–played “Sweet Caroline” at their games the night after the bombings in tribute to the city. Phones were ringing and buzzing off the hook, as friends and relatives from near and far checked in on residents of Boston. I felt enveloped in the love and support of friends, who texted and emailed from around the country to make sure that my family and friends were safe. People donated millions of dollars to The One Fund, created to support the victims of the bombings, in a matter of days.
Part of the sadness I feel is because, sometimes, it is only the most horrific of tragedies that remind people of our similarities, that we do in fact stand united. They remind people that our differences make us a stronger, better country. But I am heartened by the fact that when people tried to divide a nation and paralyze a city with fear, the response was compassion and heroism. The response was running towards the injured or donating to their cause. I’ve heard that bad things can bring out the best in some, the worst in others. We saw the worst in the individuals who attacked Boston last Monday. But we also saw that Boston’s best—and America’s best—was goodness.