Monday, April 15th, our neighbors in Massachusetts celebrated Patriot’s Day and the running of The Boston Marathon, as they have every April since 1897, when the world’s oldest annual marathon had its inception.
Although children in Massachusetts have a holiday from school, that was not the case here in New Hampshire. It was a little after four when Peter got home, but the sun was shining and the air deliciously warm. I put down my rake and joined Pete on the bed of his dad’s pick-up truck. We chatted amiably as he tucked into a bag of doritos, and I noted what a positive difference the mild weather had made on my state of mind.
And then David came outside cradling the phone, with a concerned look on his face. When I asked him what was up, he explained that my stepfather had just called with the news that there had been more than one explosion at the finish line of the marathon, with at least two deaths and many injuries.
There is no need to go into the details here, as the media has been all over this story for the past week. Suffice it to say that it has been impossible to not feel the impact on so many levels. Sadness, anger, lack of comprehension. Anxiety, as Jemesii called me several times yesterday from her apartment in Cambridge, where all residents had been asked to stay inside behind locked doors as a manhunt was conducted for the second suspect. Relief when the young man had been found.
It’s been a tough week, and not just here. An explosion at a fertilizer plant outside of Waco, Texas leveled much of a community and took at least fifteen lives. A five year old girl in India was brutally raped. And these are just the stories that we know about.
Life can be incredibly painful. We wish it wasn’t so, as our human impulse is to eradicate suffering.
I think that is what I love so much about people; our capacity to care for each other. And events such as those in the past week only tend to underscore the fact that most people are really, truly good. Look at all the first responders after the initial explosions; ordinary people who rushed in to aid and comfort wounded strangers. Or the athletes, who after crossing the finish line, kept right on running to the nearest hospital to donate blood. And then there were all the ordinary people in Boston who opened up their homes to stranded travelers.
Yesterday, Governor Patrick Deval asked the citizens of Boston to just stay indoors. Schools and businesses were closed, public transportation was shut down, and sporting events were cancelled. A snow day, without the snow. It turned out to be a brilliant ploy, as officers were finally able to locate the needle in the haystack. It also highlighted the ability of individuals to cooperate, and to put their own needs temporarily aside for the greater good.
Lives, limbs and innocence were taken this week, and some of us will never be the same. However, in the face of tragedy it is important not to lose sight of one very important concept: although we cannot always control what happens to us, we can control how we will respond. Evil will never overtake us, because we will not allow it to. Love will always trump hate.