I haven’t known what to write since everything that happened here on Monday, April, 15th. I know the world around me has picked up, and is moving on, as it needs to and as it probably should. And in many ways I’m starting to do that myself, but I’m also resisting that inevitable push forward, because what happened here was profoundly, although not uniquely, terrible. The fact that this was not unique only compounds the tragedy. My fear, I think, is that we’re becoming so used to these events that we jump to move forward and “not be terrorized by terrorism” so quickly that we’re actually normalizing this level of violence. I hated the post-9/11 mantra “Never Forget,” and I’m still uneasy with it, but I think I finally understand what people were trying to say. What is the right way forward from here?
This past Friday, my partner and I walked down to Boylston St after work. This is where the marathon ends and where the bombs went off. I have seen too many pictures of the violence that happened here, and I don’t think I will forget those images. The area was shut down for many days, and once it was reopened we made our pilgrimage. I had been dreading seeing this part of the city, afraid to see this place I love so dearly so broken. That fear felt familiar; when my grandmother first started to get sick, I had a hard time bringing myself to visit her, because it was so hard to see her so sick, so different. What I learned, though, is that the idea of her illness was always worse than the reality. Even when she was unable to speak, even as she got worse with every visit, those visits were always a gift. Because this woman who taught me about the saints and about love, who loved crossword puzzles and Brigham’s ice cream and Church and the beach and her family—she has been there all along, grinning wildly when I walk in the door. This visit, to the battered heart of my city, was the same. I was so scared to go, and then it was beautiful, with spring in bloom and a makeshift memorial overflowing love and people everywhere, and I knew we would be alright.
It feels very important to me to do contribute in some way, to respond to something so terrible with something good. So I’ll be running a half-marathon this summer, and raising money for the One Fund. I’m not a runner; about a month ago I ran 3 miles for the first time ever. It was excruciating and also the best of accomplishments. Three weeks ago running a half-marathon was something I kindasorta thought I should do…eventually. Now I felt the need to do something big, to respond to something so terrible. And I also felt the need to reject fear: fear of further attack I suppose, but more importantly fear my own limitations. There are now fewer people in this world who are physically able to train for and run a half marathon. I’m not one of them. So I’m putting myself way outside my comfort zone, because I feel a little like I owe it to the universe to rise to the challenge.
If you haven’t donated to the One Fund, please consider supporting my fundraising efforts. And at the risk of sounding preachy: consider what false limitations you’re putting on yourself and reject the fear that put those in place. Maybe that’s the way forward from here: to live fearlessly, with love in our hearts.