Heartbroken by Boston
Facebook asked me today, like it asks me (and you every day), "What's on your mind, Sejal?" in the status update section. Well, Facebook, there's a lot on my mind today. It's not often that I'm at a loss for words, but this is one of the instances where I am. On second thought, I'm not. I have lots of words and lots of thoughts and lots of ideas running through my head, but I don't even know where to begin.
I came back from lunch and my coworker said something about bombings at the Boston Marathon as I sat down. I quickly opened up a browser to start looking it up and after being horrified by the initial reports, I took a moment to send a prayer and positive vibes to those directly and indirectly impacted by the bombings, before taking a moment to try and clear my head. But that wasn't happening.
A few minutes later, I checked my email and one of my good friends had replied to an email I wrote him that morning: "Received a horrifying phone call from my Dad a couple minutes ago. He was a block away from the finish line at the Boston Marathon to go see my stepsister finish. Everyone is OK but a scary scene right now."
Now it hit home. Like most of you, I logged into Facebook and opened up my Twitter stream just to see that all of my social feeds were flooded with people sharing the latest news about the marathon, thoughts and prayers to those who were there and their families, posts from connections in the Boston area updating the rest of us to tell us they were safe and sound (thank goodness), a few rants or hypotheses around the scumbag(s) behind it and some statuses finding the silver lining in the tragedy (runners running to the hospital to donate blood, quotes from Mr. Rogers, etc.) Which leads me to where I am now: on the couch, watching the news, with lots of different thoughts running through my head.
As a friend, I am so thankful that everyone that I know who was there is ok (and those who know/have people in Boston, they're okay, too). Every post that said, "I'm okay" or "I'm safe", literally brought tears to my eyes. I saw a friend from high school post that him and his wife were in that area 5 minutes before the bomb went off. Another friend was using his Facebook to update us on what was happening there. A friend from Oregon who coaches some runners posted that him and the team were okay, but on lockdown. Every post was met by relief on my end, but sadness for the families and friends who were eagerly awaiting posts, but weren't seeing them. I love the people in my life and I'm so thankful that you're all ok. I know as life goes on, we'll all have to part ways sooner or later, but I'm really hoping for later--much much later. But not everyone is that fortunate...
As a person, my heart is heavy for all of those who were injured or killed or have family or friends who were hurt. I'm sad for you. My heart aches for you. It's not fair and there isn't a logical explanation for it. I'll think of you and send you light and love to help you grieve and learn to live again in the aftermath. I saw a friend share a quote from Professor Nikki Giovanni on the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 that I thought fits with today's tragedy: (We are Virginia Tech). We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while. We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning. (We are Virginia Tech.)
As a runner, I feel robbed. Whether you're a seasoned pro or have just started to refer to yourself as a runner (a few seconds ago is the first time I've referred to myself as one), you have a special bond with the pavement, with your body and the feeling you get from running. A race, no matter the distance, comes with its own challenges, adrenaline and motivation. And the BOSTON MARATHON? Well shoot, that's the holy grail! Runners prepare for months, years even!, to just qualify and then they get ready to run the oldest marathon in history. Ask anyone who's crossed the finish line and they'll tell you about the sheer raw emotions that the moment entails. It's one that's full of joy and relief and accomplishment and victory---but that was replaced today with fear, destruction, confusion and pain. That's a moment that those runners will never get back. It's been tainted, not just for today, but for every finish line any runner will ever cross. Because in addition to the excitement and anticipation you feel as you cross the finish line, there will also be a fear of the unknown, a fear of wondering if the war zone at the finish line will happen again, a sadness for the tragedy that occurred today. And how about those well-wishers and spectators who come out and make up the jovial atmosphere to cheer on the runners? Some of them are there to support friends and family, some of them are there just to soak up the atmosphere, some of them are there to represent the good city of Boston and have a good time. Sigh.
As a citizen of the world, I feel helpless. Tragedies like this, on a larger scale even, happen around the world every day and you don't hear about them. That's, sadly, just a way of life for some of our brothers and sisters in other countries. The fact that we live a life in North America where we don't have to fear for our safety or our lives every day might be something we take for granted, but it's a luxury that not everyone else has. With that said, there's no apples to oranges comparison here. Both situations suck. But what can be done?
As a human, I feel disgust and hope. I'm disgusted that someone would do this. I'm disgusted that this is what the world has come to. Why? What's the reason? Who's behind it? But I refuse to speculate and waste energy on hypothetical scenarios. The facts will come out, eventually. And even if they don't, it's a bitter pill that will need to be swallowed. I will say that there were so many different people represented today which means that this wasn't an attack on America or runners or any one specific group of people--it was an attack on humankind. I also feel hopeful. Look at the footage--people are running TOWARDS the bomb after it went off. Why? To help. People are helping each other get to safety. People are helping the injured get care. People are helping each other during a time of helplessness. There is hope. Not all is lost.
So there you have it. My jumble of thoughts. What's going through your head?
P.S. Here are some of my favorite updates I saw today, either first-hand or shared by friends or friends of friends:
"Boston. Fucking horrible. I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity." But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness. But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago. So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will." - Patton Oswalt
"When tragedies strike, heroes rise to meet the challenge: the first responders seen sprinting toward the blast site, the runners who changed course to run to local hospitals to donate blood, and the fine citizens of Boston who at once opened their homes to marathoners in need of a place to stay. When we come together, we cannot be brought down." - George Takei
"This is what the Mayans must have meant by the end of the world. Life wouldn't end by an apocalypse or a tidal wave. It would end by us. Mankind would prey on itself until it became extinct. Sickened by what's happening in our world. My thoughts of peace are for all of humanity today. Especially those in Boston." - Aarti
"Yes, pray for Boston. Pray for those affected by the event. Pray for their families. Pray for the person or group who created the tragic event. But, please also use your tools and abilities to create a tomorrow where tragedies like this are less possible. Let us rise up. Let us inform our democratic process by informing ourselves. Let us tell our representatives, at the city, county, state, and federal levels that we need preventative strategies. We need education, mental health coverage, support for parents, and gun control. Seek to be an active member of your community. Meet your neighbors (sometimes they give you free internet!), plant a garden, mentor a youth. Let us not only look for the helpers, let us BE the helpers. Change is possible. You can be the change. (Additionally, since we are unsure of who is responsible for this tragedy at this time, it seems best to add that understanding and careful conversation usually creates better relationships than bombs, sanctions, or strong-arming.)" - Megan
"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mahatma Gandhi
Best editorial I've read about the tragedy. Well done, NYT.
During my first half marathon, Mike missed watching his gf, now fiancé, Tawny, cross the finish line because he was waiting for my slow butt with a sign at an earlier mile marker (I still feel horrible about that, but touched as well.) When I sawMegan near the finish line, I sprinted and cried in her arms when I realized she had come to watch me actually accomplish what seemed like an impossible goal when I first set out to do it. I can remember the boost I got seeing Sara, Cristina andMonika cheering faces during other races, the smile Danielle flashed me as she ran by when I was watching and cowbelling so loud at the Portland Marathon that residents of the condo I was outside of yelled at me to stop. (I didn't), and especially all of the amazing volunteers and strangers who'd cheer you on like family when you didn't even know them (including some who made their own "beer station" for us, others who were wheelchair bound and motivated you to run for them, and the groups who'd just flash you a smile and thumbs up right when you needed it the most.) It may be runners who actually put one foot in front of the other to make it across the course, but it's the supporters and spectators who give us the strength to do it, especially when we don't think we can. Thank you, we couldn't do it without you. Great read on spectators.
Heart-warming video that demonstrates Boston's strength. I got chills.