I am humbled and grateful beyond the telling for all the love coming into Massachusetts from people all over this country and the world. Thank you. Each prayer, each hug, each expression of concern is deeply appreciated. Bay Staters are a noticeably stoic and taciturn people, but I don't know anyone who has recounted yesterday's events and the outpouring of love without a hitch in their voice. So, yeah, that matters. You're not "doing nothing," you're holding up some people till they can stand on their own. And it matters. It matters a lot. We love you back for it and will always remember it.
My daughter was in Cleveland Circle yesterday waiting for a co-worker who was running the Marathon. This co-worker was one of the thousands of Marathoners who run the race in memory of someone they lost or for some wonderful cause that they are raising money for. Suddenly, the runners stopped coming. My daughter called me and asked if I had heard anything or knew what the delay was. The call came in fast, I had no time to overworry about her location or safety. I was just relieved to know where she was and that she was safe. She spent a few hours at the apartment of a friend then went home to her Cambridge apartment when the T went back online.
She arrived home to a living room full of Emerson College students. Her roomie, James, was an Emerson grad student and had gathered up a group of young undergrads and brought them home so they could decompress, call their loved ones, get a hot meal and try and process what had happened. "Mom," she told me, "they were pretty shaken up. We took them in so, you know, they could feel safe." The students spent the night, camped out in whatever furniture they could squeeze into to sleep.
I think there were thousands of Boston area families who took people in yesterday because they needed it. My daughter and her roomie were not unique. They are just part of the big picture of "what happened" yesterday.
My sister-in-law is a Chief Pediatric nurse at renowed Children's Hospital in Boston. She helped when the injured kids were brought in. She has worked at Children's for years and is no stranger to sorrow and loss. But this was different. This wasn't a cancer or disease or some other natural event; this was a deliberate act that meant to hurt people. Yesterday was a long day for my SIL. I don't know what time she got home, I don't know what horrors she had to see and wrap her head around in order to help. I just know that she did her job. She did what she does; she helped people, as did hundreds of other medical workers in Boston yesterday. I prayed for her last night. I am afraid to ask her about what she saw. Afraid that she might tell me and I might not sleep again for a long time. So, at least for a little while, I will offer her love, prayers and support. I hope it is enough.
Tragedies like this are like stones thrown into a pond; the ripples stretch out so very far. I am an 11th generation Massachusetts resident. Like so many people in this area, I have roots that go back to the Puritan landing in the early 1600's. I am also a part of a generation that brought diversity to these old New England families. My generation of the family married descendants of Jews from Russia, Asians from the Phillippines, 2nd generation Portuguese immigrants and others. Their children are now descendants of those farmers who "fired the shot heard round the world," on that long ago April morning. We are all Bostonians today and there is a little bit of Boston in so many areas of the world. This comforts me.
We are a strong people. We are a free people. Patriots Day will continue to be a day that we honor those who truly know freedom is meaningless without a sense of community, responsibility and love. I want to just put in a story from a participant in the original Patriots Day, so bear with me for a spell:
"Captain Preston, what made you go to the Concord Fight [on 19 April 1775]?""What did I go for?" "...Were you oppressed by the Stamp Act?" "I never saw any stamps, and I always understood that none were ever sold." "Well, what about the tea tax? "Tea tax, I never drank a drop of the stuff, the boys threw it all overboard." "But I suppose you have been reading Harrington, Sidney, and Locke about the eternal principle of liberty?" "I never heard of these men. The only books we had were the Bible, the Catechism, Watts' psalms and hymns and the almanacs." "Well, then, what was the matter?" "Young man, what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves and we always meant to. They didn't mean we should."
- Captain Levi Preston of Danvers, Massachusetts, interviewed about his participation in the first battle of the American Revolution many years later, at the age of 91, around 1843.
"They didn't mean that we should." But we will, no matter what.