I could do without the details. I could do without knowing the fact that a family went to the marathon Monday afternoon to cheer on their father. They arrived at the finish line, eating ice cream, and moments later, life was dramatically changed. A son was gone. A daughter lost a leg. And a mother has gravely serious brain trauma. A family not all that different from my own. A family doing things I would do with my own children.
A father grieves. Is that even an adequate enough sentence? A father, who simply wanted to give his all in a traditional race here in Boston.
I could do without knowing about Bill, the 78 year old who’s run more marathons than I care to think of. Bill, whose count of miles run has to be in the thousands. Bill, who, after twenty-six miles, who had simply yards to go before his finish, had his legs literally go jelly after a devastating explosion.
I could do without seeing the mother of twenty-nine year old Krystle, sobbing, gasping for air. As if the act of breathing itself physically hurt. Without watching the media zero in on her in her time of intense pain and total anguish, and exploit it.
I could do without the media telling me that “Sweet Caroline” was played at Yankee Stadium last night. That thousands of Yankee fans sang along with the lyrics. It was quite a sight watching those navy blue and white clad people use mannerisms during the song that are usually reserved for those wearing red.
I could do without my almost seven-year-old thinking it’s just a normal part of life for people to be shot, or mangled. Annihilated. I could do without her memorizing names of victims, and asking to put down children’s names for our church’s Easter memorial flowers.
I could do without the images of people, captured at a moment in time when they were at their weakest. When they were in more pain than anything they could recall in their lifetimes. People, with all their extremities, only to learn later, that their extremities had to be removed.
I silently ponder what it must be like to awake in a hospital room, legless, wondering if your final days with your legs were good ones. If you had gotten all you possibly could out of your legs. To know that Monday morning, you woke up perfectly fine, in pristine health, and Tuesday, you sit alone, with nothing below the thigh. I can mentally imagine it to be something akin to culture shock. In reality, I’m sure it’s far worse.
I could do without all these things because Boston is like my home. These images make my throat swell, my eyes water, and my heart ache. I live thirty minutes outside the city, but it’s the place we go for nights out. We take our children there to see Disney on ice, to watch the latest play. We have sat in Fenway park, had a hot dog, and jumped around like jackaloons when our team beat those Damn Yankees.
Yes, Boston is home, and, while acts of terror in places like Los Angeles and New York and even attempts in D.C. have become all too familiar, all too expected, I never expected it in our own back yard. I never expected it in places I have visited, places that have been etched on my heart.
Boston, we love you.