I have lived almost my entire life in the Boston area.
4 days ago, on Monday, April 15th, the Boston Marathon was run for the 117th time. Over the last few years, we’ve taken the girls to watch from near where we live. We watch from closer to the start than the finish but the girls seem to love it. They can stand right on the edge of the road, getting occasional high-5s from runners as the go by. Its really an amazing experience; this year in particular. The sun was shining. The temperature was perfect. The energy in general is pretty awesome. From seeing the people in wheelchairs go by first to the lead runners followed by a constant flow of runners, many of whom have tremendous stories to tell or are running for people with tremendous stories. There’s this really great positive vibe and a ton of emotion. Even Chloe, who generally doesn’t like crowds or “sensory overload” experiences, enjoys it enough to stand on the edge and cheer people on.
The girls enjoyed their time and then we all headed out. They went on with their day as if nothing else happened. Later that afternoon, when the explosions went off at the finish line, I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say that among other things, it was a pretty surreal moment.
I’m not going to go into a lot of “Boston Pride” here, even though I feel it. There has been a great deal of that going around and very comforting to read and to see. I find that I generally like to stay away from the status updates on Facebook and the Tweets during these types of moments because I just don’t know what to say. Until a little while ago.
I spent much of this week finding myself being amazed at the strength of the community. I’m not talking about the people of Boston as much as I’m talking about the people in general. The Marathon specifically has participants and audience members from all over the world. We’ve all seen the footage over and over of people running in the unnatural direction to help others. We’ve seen the Mayor of Boston (who has been the mayor as long as I can remember) check himself out of the hospital with a broken leg so he can help to comfort his city. We’ve seen the countless law enforcement officers, from the local police departments, the FBI, ATF, National Guard, and who knows where else work around the clock to not only try and apprehend whoever was responsible but also to make us all feel that much safer. We’ve seen Rene Rancourt put his microphone down and lead a stadium of 17,000+ people in one of the most emotional National Anthems in my lifetime:
But by, “We” I mean, not my kids. I wouldn’t say that I’m an overly “gung-ho” type of guy. I’m not overly adventurous or daring. I’m also, for whatever reason, not willing to be afraid of this kind of terrorism. I choose not to let it get in the way of life, to the best, and most reasonable extents. Here’s the thing that gets to me the most: I’ve been a person for a long enough time now where I think I understand how the world works and I understand that there is far more good than bad. I understand the bigger picture in a way that my kids don’t, yet. They are just starting their adventure.
I can’t protect them from everything, and for the things I can protect them from, I can’t protect them forever. At some point, they will need to learn about the bigger picture.
But not today.
Today they get to continue being 5 and 4. Today they get to have a sleepover in a hotel in NY and get excited for the big birthday party we get to go to tomorrow for a friend.
These types of events have a way of stealing innocence from people who haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy that innocence for a long enough time.
After the tragedy in Newtown, my wife and I felt compelled to talk to our kids about what to do in case there was a problem in their school. We used a version of the quote from Mr. Rogers, “Look for the helpers. You’ll always find people who are helping.” This time, we haven’t said anything. I haven’t figured out how to explain this one to them and for the moment, I’m ok with that. I’ve seen lots of articles about “how to talk to your kids” when these types of things happen and we will.
But not today.
Last night, just about 3.5 days after the bombs went off, the first of the 2 suspects was killed by the authorities. Almost 24 hours later, the second suspect, the first’s brother, was captured, alive, in the town where I bought my first house after college. 4 days later. The last 4 nights I’ve gone to sleep hoping that this would have a quick resolution and the terrorists would be brought to some form of justice (which form didn’t matter to me).
Yes, there are likely always going to be some sort of people who are going to try and steal that innocence away from our kids. There are likely always going to be people who do evil things to others for reasons that I’ll never understand. There will likely always be terrorists who try to force us to live in fear.
But not today.