I’m so happy for my beloved Boston. I was putting away clothes this morning and I found the turquoise and yellow “Boston Strong” T-shirt that my mother sent me after the Boston Marathon bombing. I realized that it was exactly six months ago this week that I was in Boston, walking across the marathon finish line, less than a day before the bombs went off in the same spot.
I had wanted to see what the runners would see as they crossed the line, and celebrate the cheer around this annual event — a staple of my childhood (my brother ran it twice) and a huge source of pride for our city.
It was a gorgeous mid-April day, the way spring can be particularly sweet in Boston, and the city was buzzing with pre-marathon bliss. The next day that would end abruptly with a cowardly and shocking act of terrorism. This was the 117th Boston Marathon and there had never been a single incident; the city was taken utterly by surprise.
I happened to be at Mass General Hospital when a number of the most severely injured victims started arriving by ambulance, some without legs. They had the terrible misfortune of getting great viewing spots for the marathon too close to the finish line, where the bombs went off. Their devastated families held each other up in the lobby as police and security ran helter-skelter through the hospital. It was chaos.
Boston was a war zone.
It was one of the saddest moments I have ever experienced, and especially cruel that it happened — and of course, this was deliberate — in a moment of such great triumph, as runners were crossing the finish line.
The bombers were caught — one was killed — in a massive manhunt that basically shut down Boston as the entire country looked on, holding its breath. This could have happened anywhere. In fact, if the bombers had gotten away, Times Square was their next target. But they were stopped in Boston, and Boston needed it to happen that way. Especially because the 9/11 flights originated in Logan Airport, something that city has not forgotten, Boston needed it to happen that way. After that, people started wearing the turquoise and yellow Boston Strong T-shirts, the victims (tragically, 4 dead and 282 injured) were publicly remembered and acknowledged, law enforcement officials were deservedly honored, and Boston began the slow process of healing.
Yesterday, in my living room in Hawaii, 5,000 miles away from my hometown, I was screaming and jumping up and down in front of a TV set, knowing that everyone in Boston, including everyone I love there, was doing the exact same thing. (Unless they were lucky enough to be at Fenway Park, actually seeing the Sox win the pennant. Then they were screaming and jumping up and down there, with 37,000 other fans.) Boston, in mourning after the marathon, was now celebrating a huge victory — the Red Sox, OUR Red Sox, were going to the World Series. And this time last year they were in last place.
The Boston Red Sox are going to the World Series and Boston is elated, Boston is partying, Boston is again triumphant.
I don’t spend all my time in the place where I grew up but I do go as often as I can. My parents are there (still in the same house, fifty years now), my oldest friends, my high school, my college, all the places of all my firsts.
Today Boston, my first love, is happy and well and strong; Boston is hitting grand slam home runs and partying in the streets.
Boston is coming back.
I remember turning around and looking back after walking across that finish line and wondering how the runners were going to feel the moment after they crossed it, what that victory would feel like? I couldn’t possibly know, nor could any of us, what was about to happen.
Now I celebrate what it feels like to come back from despair, only six months later, and have a day like yesterday where we were separately – wherever we Bostonians may be – and collectively, finally and again, feeling bliss. Boston bliss.