It is Sunday morning in the Boston area, two days after the capture of Suspect #2 in the Boston Marathon bombing that held an American city captive. In a sense, the entire nation was held captive via television, internet and radio reports, and the (gift? intrusion?) of on-the-spot cable news networks. Things are beginning to get back to normal here, although if I go outside, I can still hear the powerful pulsing of helicopters thirteen miles away, in Boston proper. I have been in the yard a lot, looking for my cat Girgir who disappeared about the same time. It's as if the scare wisked him away somewhere, and he has forgotten how to get back home.
I have a few friends and acquaintances who were running the Marathon, and my very dear friend was working in Boston, where she is a nurse at an eye surgery office. Her sister is an ER nurse at Mass General, where they received the first bombing victims, and she was on shift. This is my friend's second scare; she has hidden under the reception desk when her building was on lockdown previously. She gave my middle son Matt a ride home from his office in Boston, because the train had been shut down. I couldn't reach Matt by phone, as the police had interrupted cell service, in case the bombs had been detonated by cell phone. Thank God for email, and thank God he is always on it. I quickly learned that he was all right, and that his girlfriend was, too - she was at the race, but had been in a restroom during the bomb blasts. Thank God for all these things. It is frightening to know that these beautiful people - the shiny living threads that make up the very fabric of my life, were in danger as I blithely walked my dogs in my neighborhood on a sunny afternoon. Life is very uncertain.
It is really a strange and horrible feeling to be under seige. I don't live in the city itself, so I can't report on being right there, but my friends and my son can. It was horrible. There were armed (and I mean machine gun armed) police on every street, and driving down Rte. 93 it was not unusual to see a string three miles long of SWAT, police, fire, and rescue vehicles trundling down to the city, as if the whole world was ready to be lit up with explosions and death. On television, scenes of streets I know well were broadcast in all their abandoned silence, as thousands of police looked for the suspects. The grief for the victims bubbled up constantly as I ran errands, worked, or performed simple chores - trying to keep busy and yet stay ready, stay informed. I cannot believe that the victims were hurt here, at the Marathon, in Boston.
Marathon Monday is a fun day. If you are really lucky, you have tickets to go see the Red Sox play at 11 am, and then will head over to Boyleston Street to catch some of the Marathon. You can grab a sausage from a street vendor or dip into a pub for a beer, chatting with other patrons about how you will never run the Marathon, ever. How do they do it? Twenty-six (and change) grueling miles? It is Patriots Day too, so the stores and sidewalks are crowded with people laughing and smiling and relaxing together. And then there are the families wearing matching tee shirts, their small kids toting signs and colorful balloons, waiting to cheer their beloved runner on at the finish line, that special loved one who has trained and sweated and dreamed about running - and completing - the Boston Marathon. It is community at it's best. Every city has something like it, I'm sure - and yet not like it. The Boston Marathon is special, and has now become the site of explosions, mayhem, fear and death. It's a sadness and a loss that takes a while to absorb, fully.
I love Boston. I am not from here, and yet I guess that now, after twenty-five years, I am. The other day I was trying to say the name "Mark," and it came out "Maaak," and I was horrified, and my kids laughed about it. Am I getting an accent? Just as my family are the threads that make up who I am, I like to feel that my family is a part of the diverse quilt that is the Boston area, sheltering and warm. And we will do what we can, as a part of it's fabric, to help. My husband recently gave blood, we are signing up for a few fundraisers, and we will make a monetary donation. It feels like so little, but it's all we can think of to do, besides pray. We now have a scar on our Boston hearts, filled with sadness for the victims who lost life or limbs in our city.
We've got to keep on running towards the future. Now the people who are real heroes are being celebrated - police, doctors, nurses, and average Joes who rushed into chaos to help. And I will be at the finish line next year, cheering as the runners come in, glorious and trembling and whole, doing it for those who cannot. Our strength will become their strength, and we will offer it up in the face of danger or risk because you've just got to keep living.
One last thing..I hope our cat Girgir comes back. It's all clear now, buddy. All safe. Come on home to us.