"And when I hurt,
Hurtin' runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I'm with you
Warm, touchin' warm
Reachin' out, touchin' me touchin' you
(bum bum bum)
Good times never seemed so good
(so good! so good! so good!)
I've been inclined
(bum bum bum)
To believe they never would..."
- Sweet Caroline sung by Neil Diamond
It's been almost two weeks since the bombings at the Boston Marathon. It's taken me a while to be able to put my feelings into words. Most people my age will always remember where they were when they heard about the 911 attacks, & I think that will also hold true for New Englanders & the Boston Marathon bombing. For me, I was in my car going about my day. I was in a Bank of America parking lot when I checked facebook. I couldn't believe the posts I was seeing. News about blasts, not knowing how many were injured or dead.
My thoughts immediately went to the people I knew who were planning to be at the marathon that day. My business partner had just told me that morning that his wife & daughter had gone to Boston for the event. My mind raced as I dialed his phone number. I couldn't even think of how to start the conversation. My words came out jumbled & incoherent at my first few attempts. "There was a bombing at the marathon & your wife..." I finally blurted out before trailing off. His wife & daughter had planned on being at the finish line where the bombs went off, but through a twist of fate their plans had changed. They were safe.
My mind raced to others I knew that had planned to be there. One of my friends had decided to work rather than take the day off at the last minute. Another of my friends had been standing in between the two blast when they occurred but was safe. I was relieved that those I knew were safe, but my heart mourned for all the victims I didn't know. My heart mourned for Boston, our Boston. My favorite city in the world. The city we first took you to when you were only a few months old.
I finished up my work day & picked you up from school in a daze. Once we got home, I turned the TV on low & sat mesmerized in front of it. I felt sick to my stomach. I just can't understand how someone could do this to other people. I felt helpless, knowing there was nothing I could do except pray.
You're a sensitive little girl. You pretty quickly sense when things are wrong. I knew I should try to hide it all from you. I knew I should turn off the TV, but I couldn't. "What's wrong Mommy? You look sad," you asked me. How do you explain something like this to a three year old? How do you teach your daughter about such ugliness when you want her to grow up & see the beauty of the world? How do you explain that children & families were killed & injured? How can a child ever feel safe again?
"I am sad, sweetie. Someone did a really bad thing," I responded. "Was it Wreck-It Ralph? He's always making messes," you asked. A smile spread across my face. In your world Wreck-It Ralph making a mess is the worst thing you could imagine. I cherish your innocence. "No sweetie. It wasn't Wreck-It Ralph. Wreck-It Ralph would never try to hurt someone, but today someone hurt a lot of people." You looked at me wide eyed. "Am I going to get hurt?" My heart said "you can never know what might happen" but the words I said were "of course not." And that was that for you. You went back to playing while I continued to watch the frightening news reports.
That was Monday. Over the next few days news reports were filled with stories of heroes that ran towards the blast & knocked down fences to get to those who were injured. We heard about marathon runners who went extra miles to hospitals to donate blood for victims. We watched as they played Sweet Caroline, a song that has become a Boston RedSox anthem, at Yankee stadium & ballparks throughout the country.
On Friday, your daddy & I were supposed to go to a RedSox game at Fenway. It would be the first home game since the bombings. We were eager to mourn for our favorite city & root on our favorite city with the crowds at Fenway. You were set to sleepover your best friend's house. But then Boston was locked down- the whole city. I don't think I've ever seen a US city in lockdown like that. The RedSox game was canceled, & instead of watching a baseball game your daddy & I were rooted in front of the TV.
A manhunt was going on in the streets of Watertown, just outside of Boston. Surveillance camera footage had revealed two suspects. It was said the footage showed the suspects placing the bombs at the feet of children before they went off. The older suspect had been killed in a shootout. The younger suspect was being hunted, house by house.
I'm pretty sure I was in the minority, but my heart was filled with sadness not only for the victims of this senseless tragedy but also for the suspect that was being hunted. He was 19- just a boy. I thought about how much my ideas & ideals have changed since I was 19 years old. No, I never went to a place where I could do the horrific things that had been done, but even amidst the awful things he had done I couldn't stop thinking "he just a boy!" I thought about how scared he must be as he was being hunted, the FBI & Boston's finest against a 19 year old boy.
Law enforcement masterfully collaborated & swiftly caught the 19 year old suspect. The lockdown was lifted, & we watched the news footage of people cheering in the streets. I was relieved that the threat was gone. I was so happy to see the Boston streets full of people again. But still I mourned. I mourned for all of the victims of the bombings & aftermath. I also mourned for a family who had been told their two sons had committed such acts of terror, a family who had lost one son & watched on TV as their 19 year old son was hunted & captured. I mourned that you, my beautiful & loved daughter, live in a world where things like this exist.
The RedSox did play the next day. Tears welled in my eyes as I watched the tribute given during the opening ceremonies.
The tears flowed down my face as I watched Rick & Dick Hoyt throw the first pitch. I smiled as Big Papi took the mic & said "This is our Fing city" (luckily you weren't in the room for that). And when the eighth inning rolled around & Neil Diamond came out from the dugout to sing Sweet Caroline, you & I joined the crowd from the couch of our living room & sang our hearts out.
I don't know how to explain the past events to you, but I do know that I've fallen in love with our city of Boston all over again. The city exemplifies tenacity & endurance, generousity & love, strength & kindness. I see those same qualities in you. I don't know what things you will see in your lifetime, but I hope you will embrace those qualities as you navigate through life. I hope when you get knocked down, you will rebuild. And when faced with absolute ugliness, I hope you will try to find beauty.
I love you so,