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Saturday, April 20, 2013


This year, home alone and behind on my April writing quest, I vowed not to turn on the TV for Marathon coverage until I’d reached my word count.  I got distracted writing an article afterwards, and then a late blog post.  A few minutes after 3:00, our daughter texted me from her college dorm room.  

                “What’s going on with the Marathon?”
                “I don’t know.  I haven’t turned it on yet.”
                “There were explosions at the finish line.”

You can’t imagine.  Everyone we know goes to, or knows someone who goes to, or runs the Marathon.  I became a woman with mad thumbs.  I was so frazzled, in trying to text my sister, I got my niece instead. 
“You guys aren’t in Boston are you?”
“No, we are all safe. 

I texted my brother.  

 “Everyone ok?”

Another sister, listening to news in Australia, Skyped to confirm we were fine.  A different niece posted on Facebook that though she’d expected to be at the finish line, they’d had a change of plan.  A nephew, downtown but with no phone service, confirmed his safety on FB too. By the time a blanket email arrived from my uncle’s wife in Pennsylvania, checking on all first and second cousins living and in some cases, running around Boston arrived, things hit home. 

This happened.  Here.  To us. 

Each reply-all email announcing safety brought some measure of relief.  But what relief will there be for those who were injured, who face grueling recoveries, for those who lost loved ones on Monday, and more recently, Friday?  And the rest of us? Whole in body but disheartened in spirit?  How do we comprehend the evil that motivated two young men to injure in such a catastrophic way?

I was born in Boston. I spent my first six-weeks in an incubator in one of the hospitals caring for the injured now…the same place where “Suspect #1” was pronounced dead.  As a young adult, I worked downtown and in the Back Bay. For a long time, my social life revolved around the city, and even now, there are few things my husband and I like much more than taking a ferry ride in for a yummy meal in the North End.  Now though, I will never walk from the subway down Boylston Street past the two bomb sites without a twinge.  I’ll never go to my eye doctor's again without eyeballing the Starbucks where, on my regular trips in, I splurge on coffee.  It was front and center in the Boston Globe on Tuesday, a man dressed in a white hazmat suit analyzing evidence on the roof above.
While it appears my family was untouched by the physical horror, we watched the mayor of OUR city, the governor of OUR commonwealth, the President of OUR United States offer emotional and inspiring tributes in OUR cathedral.  National news filmed OUR streets.  Yesterday, friends in Newton were on lock down.  My brother couldn’t go to work at his job in Cambridge.  The city streets were void of cars.  This happened. This happened here.  This happened to us. 

A day later, with a total of five people dead and so many more lives shattered, I claw for some understanding of how any child, born with hope and gifts and potential could travel a curving road to an intersection, and choose to take such a profoundly wrong turn.

I could dwell on that. I could.

But I choose not to.  In spite of how it hurts, and in truth with some trepidation as to how to move on, I recognize something.  This didn’t just happen to us.  Or better said, it happened to ALL of us.  To everyone across the country who joined us in our grief, to those who have partnered with us, wrote inspirational messages, changed their Facebook photos to “I heart Boston,” to the sports beacons and headlines featuring loyalty to our city, to everyone who became one with us, to the givers, the helpers, the first responders, to those who put their lives on the line, I hope you know how much it means. 

We are one nation, under God, indivisible.   

Your actions gave proof through the long, heartbreaking night that was this week.  Our flag is still there. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Amen, Liza.
Glad no one in your family was involved. Those must've been frantic hours, trying to track down everyone.
Sad that someone could take such a hateful path. Proof evil really does exist in our world.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Even though I knew you were in the east, I hadn't realized you were so close, Liza. My god, the fear and chaos that must have been your lives. This sort of thing is impossible to understand. Hardly possible to even grasp as a real thing, here in this country. Even though we've seen it happen before. But we've been so fortunate to live in a strong country, one so strong it can be easy to feel invincible, so events like the Boston Marathon tragedy are that much more unsettling. We've not had war-torn years on our soil to desensitize ourselves to any degree.

And I hope it stays that way. I hope that events like this will never feel normal. I hope we will always fear getting hit by a bus more than we'll fear something like this. While still tragic, it feels easier to comprehend an accident, just a random freak thing that maybe, maybe we have some control over. But a bombing? It can never make sense. It has no place in the order of things.

My heart breaks for all those caught off guard, hurt and broken. For those of you who stood by waiting to see what loved ones might be gone or hurt or in some way affected. For anyone who felt even a moment of fear or desperate longing to reach a loved one, or who had a flashback to a time where they did experience that. And to be honest, my heart breaks for the youth--or anyone--who can't find a path out of hatred before they're led to devastation.

But I'm so glad you're okay. So glad your family and loved ones are okay.

Unknown said...

Beautifully said, Liza. So happy you all are safe!

Robin said...

This post brought home to me what it was like for everyone who had loves ones RIGHT THERE. This has been twisting in my gut since it happened, and I didn't know anyone PERSONALLY. I wasn't worried for anyone SPECIFICALLY. I wasn't worried about the next time I walked down Boylston Street, because I never have. And might never in the future... But it has still been heavy on my mind. When the second brother was finally apprehended, it was a relief.

You are right. This happened to our entire country. Again. When terrorists attack anywhere in the USA, the attack ALL of the USA. What they don't seem to understand is that we always come out stronger for it. Our flag is still waving.

Carol Kilgore said...

I am so happy you and your family are all safe and accounted for. Yes, you're so right ... this happened to all of us. We all grieve. We all rejoice to see our flag still there.

Juliann Wetz said...

I cannot imagine what it must have been like there. I don't think our minds (and hearts) can make sense of something like this happening in our home.

But all Bostonians should be proud of how they handled this catastrophe and how strong you all appeared to the rest of us. It was inspiring.

Bish Denham said...

I'm so glad to know all of your family is safe. Boston is so rich in history. This is another page in her illustrious book. Bostonians can be be proud.

I've never been to there, but it's one city I'd love to visit, and have YOU as a tour guide. I know I'd see more than the average tourist.

mshatch said...

Glad everyone in your family remained safe. What a horrible tragedy and how awful that the Marathon will now be remembered for it :(

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I'm so glad you and your family are all safe. And I'm heartsick for those who are not.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

So beautifully written and so wonderful that you and yours are safe.
We are all in this together and will survive it that way- together.

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh Liza. So glad everyone was accounted for. I cannot fathom such hate. I will never understand it. Never! Why in the world can't people JUST live and let live? I do know that Satan is in this world. Someday he won't be though. There will be a NEW earth. I'm going to be there. God will wipe our tears away. xoxo