Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

On the books Patriots Day celebrates the beginning of the Revolutionary War, but really Paul Revere has little to do with why Boston has a holiday the third Monday in April. It has much more to do with the Boston Marathon than the Battles of Lexington and Concord. We call Patriot's Day "Marathon Monday" because that's the point. This year was the 117th annual Boston Marathon, the longest running marathon in the country. It's a day where the Red Sox play baseball in Fenway Park, the people go out to the pubs, and the populace gets together to celebrate itself as a city. For many people it's the happiest day of the year. It's a holiday because the streets shut down so people can show how strong they are. Only somebody with massive mental toughness can run twenty-six miles. That's what Boston's celebrating; since the British were coming in 1775 this has been a city of people who are tough and face the threat. 

I think to be really "from" somewhere you have to grow up there for at least a few years. I didn't grow up in Boston. I'm not from here. When Patriots Day happened in the past I remember being jealous that my mom, who worked with Bostonians, didn't have to go to the office, but I had to go to school. Now I've been here for two years and I get it. I understand this city even if I'm not from here. 


A tragedy is something that is sad because it takes away something sacred. Today was a tragedy because somebody bombed the marathon our city loves. They killed children and civilians who thought they were safe. 20,000 people from 96 countries came thinking their only challenge would be the running, not bombs. The people who were there will never be the same. They will be traumatized and saddened by this holiday that is meant to show Boston's endurance. When a tragedy happens the poets and writers have to be the first to respond after doctors and nurses finish healing the bones. We  remind people that the the acts of today are pieces in a massive human puzzle. The people killed and the people saved are only pieces of a larger story. The individual stories matter, but writers put the whole thing in perspective.We have to tell the truth about the situation. We have to say that it doesn't really matter who did it; violence isn't acceptable if it's one person or a whole cell of terrorists. We have to say that we know there are other countries that America bombs every day. We have to say that it's beautiful that there are eight hospitals in Boston (including mine) and we have the best healthcare in the world even if it's the most expensive. We have to say something about the state of the world when even a bombing in Boston can't unite the country politically. We have to remind people it doesn't matter why it was done because knowing won't undo it.


I live in the hospital district and even now the ambulances and police are trying to contain the horror. I haven't liked helicopters since my transplant because I consider them harbingers of death so, like many, I had a hard day full of bad memories. I'll never be the kind of person who can run toward disaster. My roommate is a nurse and wanted to go help, but I just wanted to crawl into my bed and sleep until the tragedy was over. I think it's important to be a witness of the acts of kindness and the acts of aggression some will try to commit following this horrible Patriot's Day so I won't hide under my pillow. I'll sit here and tell you how my friends were attacked and the only reason I was spared was because I wasn't athletic enough to run or kind enough to volunteer. I'll tell you I'm scared, but I will not lash out in that fear to any person or group. I have practice feeling like my life is in danger, but even you, who maybe has never really felt threatened before, can watch without blaming the wrong people for this event. Please join me in witnessing. That's a good thing to do.


The only other good advice I have for the people of Boston is from one of my life idols Jane McGonigal "Focus visual attention on something highly engaging (like a videogame) and stay up late/sleep less. " so your brain can't convert traumatic images into memories. It's science. It works.

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