Life After Two Bombings, One Lockdown, and a Whole Lot of Gratitude

boston marathon memorial

“You would not believe what’s happened during the night.”

Those were the words that cut through my grogginess when I awoke on Friday morning.

My boyfriend, who had been up for awhile already, relayed the surreal events of the night: The Boston bombers had—held up a Central Square 7-11 in Cambridge, killed at least one policeman, car jacked someone but had let the victim go, had a shootout with the police in Watertown. (Of course later some of these details changed with new information.) One of them had ran over (and killed) the other one. He was now one on the loose.

Good morning, today you’ll be on lockdown.

I got out of bed, followed my boyfriend to the living room, and immediately planted myself in front of the TV, where that day I spent more time than I can ever remember. Especially for news. Especially for local news.

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The night before on Thursday, as of course you know, video and photos of the Boston bombers near the finish line had been released. We had inadvertently been right next to the FBI conference—with the associated police tanks, lines of news trucks, and guards—when they released the photos and video (we drove away from the area just at the moment they released). Being so near all that was not planned. We had both started work extra early that day to end it with a visit to the city, which we hadn’t been to since before Marathon Monday. A memorial we saw at the end of the closed-off area was as beautiful and strangely comforting for the outpouring of love and support, as it was upsetting and unsettling—one of the typically busiest streets in Boston cordoned off and rendered a ghost town, two people in white hazmat suits in the distance. Surreal. The word I’ve thought maybe a million times since last Monday.

I’d been almost paralyzed with nerves at the thought of coming into the city. I work at home most of the time, but when I go into the office, well…it’s close to the finish line. And closed. It’s part of the crime scene.

My boyfriend and I stood at the memorial and paid our respects, and then we went to Bukowski Tavern. Bukowski’s is about a minute walk from the memorial site (and the war tank next to it) and also halfway between that and the FBI press conference. We left after only a very short time. It was all too overwhelming.

I was driving us home during the FBI press conference so I didn’t see what had been released until we got home. Once there, I studied the blurry photos and especially the side photo showing White Hat’s nose and something about his stance following Suspect #1 (Tamerlan), and thought, You would know this White Hat guy if you knew him. Meaning, you would have no trouble picking him out. The other one I wasn’t so sure about. But I prayed someone would recognize them. We went to sleep that night with absolutely no idea of the events that would unfold.

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On Friday, we of the Boston area spent the day in a gray scary space of not knowing, and definitely, not leaving our houses. As asked, we followed the “shelter in place” request until the evening when Gov. Deval Patrick finally said, Okay, you can go outside, just be careful. Just as they lifted the lockdown, it was “wet food” (aka canned food) dinnertime for my two felines, who’d been characteristically unaffected by the day’s events and the outside world. I realized I’d used the last can the previous night, and my boyfriend offered to walk to the convenience store nearby. As soon as he left I was struck by an irrational fear that as a tall, big guy, maybe he shouldn’t have worn that baseball cap, you know, just in case they mistake him. When he walked back in the door a very short time later (to my relief), he told me that some sort of gunfire had gone down. Though we had turned off the TV, he had kept up to date through his phone. I had tried to step away from the news. That was over.

We turned the TV back on and watched tense and expectant as the rest of the night unfolded. I watched the police in front of the house that held the boat with the suspect, and thought once again how grateful I was for our protectors. And our medical professionals. And all the people who have tried to bring beauty to such an unfortunate situation, both here in the Boston area and throughout the country.

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Though these events were surrounding a marathon, I am reminded of a 5K. It’s a distance that translates to 3.1 miles. It’s a race that new runners start with. It’s a race at which experienced runners prove their speed. It’s a distance the newly fit—or looking to get fit—try their hand at this organized running thing. It’s a race that walkers say, what the heck, I’ll do it! It’s an event that people from all walks of life join together to fight and raise money for breast cancer, leukemia, HIV/AIDS awareness and research, no-kill shelters and animal causes…In short, that distance touches, maybe not everyone, but it cuts a wide swath.

They caught Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a little more than a 5K from where I live, but every single location of these events, not to mention emotional aspects, have played out at places and surrounding things I have a connection to. I think that’s true for a lot of people one way or another, and why this tragedy has resonated so deeply across the country. Whether that connection is location, an emotional or personal connection, or simply the senselessness and randomness of horror happening at a marathon, which has always been such a positive, even innocent, celebration, these events in Boston have touched a lot of people.

Of course, the real marathon, and a very different kind—one characterized by great length and concentrated effort without a foreseeable end—is now in store for many. The first people I thought of the next morning were those who have lost their life and their families, and all those affected who now have a long road, many without the help of good (or any) health insurance. Once again, I was struck by how this tragedy was a huge reminder of all the seemingly cliché words, but especially ones like this:

Every second that you live you are never going to get back. You are never going to get to change what you said, didn’t say, did, or didn’t do. Live how you want to live. Act how you want to be remembered, because you never know how long or short you are going to be here.

– Emily Doberstein

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4 Comments

Filed under Inspiration, Running

4 responses to “Life After Two Bombings, One Lockdown, and a Whole Lot of Gratitude

  1. Run, Karla, Run

    Diann, Surreal is right. I kept thinking that as I watched it on the news. When it’s happening just a 5K away from you…surreal. That’s how I felt about 9/11 in NYC. Looking out my window and seeing the plume of smoke? Surreal. Really lovely piece.

    • Thank you so much, Karla.
      I think the Boston-NY connection is really strong. 9/11 was incredibly strange around here as well, though as you said about this, I cannot imagine that, which was on a such a larger scale, being in my back yard.

  2. I’m so glad you wrote about your experience being nearby as I was thinking of you, as I’m sure everyone you know was.

    This right here was articulated so perfectly: “Of course, the real marathon, and a very different kind—one characterized by great length and concentrated effort without a foreseeable end—is now in store for many. “

    • Thank you, I appreciate that.
      I went into my gym today and there were posters everywhere for one of the victims. She belongs to my gym and goes to the same yoga studio. So strange.

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