I suppose this one should start with the now obvious fact: I am from Boston. I used to not be. I grew up in Western New York, near Buffalo. That was my home. It still is in some ways, but in 1996, I moved to the Greater Boston Area.
In Massachusetts, April 19 is a holiday. It is called Patriots’ Day. (or is it Patriot’s Day?) On the week with April 19, the Monday is Patriots’ Day and the running of the Boston Marathon. This is the anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War. In the sensible move, the schools are closed the week of Patriots’ Day. We took this week in Cleveland to visit family.
We were taking the dog to a dog park with the girls when Dr. Jay pulled me aside. “There were explosions at the Marathon”. That’s all we knew. I went to Facebook and asked my friends for more info. They quickly got me up to date while Dr. Jay found the streaming radio from Boston. The news was horrific. The radio reported bodies ripped apart. Numerous severed limbs. Blood everywhere. Deaths were certain. I was torn. I needed to know.
While we were at the dog park, we continued to listen. Then we both remembered that our graduate school advisor; we had the same person, was running that day. Last year, he had a hamstring injury and when the day ended up being almost 90 degrees, he happily took the deferment to run this year instead. We did the math. He would be crossing within 10-15 of the explosions.
As a recent runner, I couldn’t help but think of the two recent races I have done. The finish line is crazy and a mess. There are people everywhere and as a runner, you are dazed and just trying to find some way to keep moving towards family. For people like me, the anxiety of being surrounded by so many people can choke you. Then add an explosion, and another.
The week was not relaxing. I felt ill all of the time. I needed more and more information. We did many things including hiking just to be away from the news. Thursday night, I was awoken at 2 am by a daughter who needed me to sleep with her. I ended up sleeping downstairs with the girls. At 6 am, Dr. Jay came down to give me my medicine (I always take it at 6am). When he woke me at 7:30, he let me know that the cell phones had been going since 6:20. His work closed, my work went on high alert, calls kept going through for different alerts. The suspect was loose in Watertown. This is where many of my friends live. I checked and they had been alerted at 2am by the police to stay indoors. They were doing well and a bit nervous.
We drove home Friday, constantly checking the news, checking with friends, checking with the streaming radio… we found out about the relaxing of the shelter in place, one friend went outside on his deck, only to hear gunshots and explosions. We found about the boat, the stories of the man trapped there. Within 30 minutes from home, he was captured. We weren’t sure if he was dead or alive. We had no idea until about 10 minutes from home.
The return was odd. This was a crazy week. I work in a place that is managed by MIT. We lost one of our own this week. An 8 year old boy died. Luna is 8. BU lost a mathematician. Arlington lost a native daughter. Families are torn with injuries and death. I need answers. Why the Marathon? Why Boston? Was it simply that the brothers lived in Cambridge? Why runners? We run for ourselves. We are in some sense very selfish that way. We run for the challenge, the open air. We don’t run for politics.
I don’t know where I sit with this week. I am sad and upset about West, Texas. I am furious at the Senate, but to be honest, I am tortured by what has happened in my city.
I never thought I was from Boston. Until the day my city was torn apart.
* we were very open with the girls and talked to them about the whole thing. We are still seeing how they are processing the whole thing.