Less than 48 hours ago our city changed forever. An annual tradition of endurance, sportsmanship, and camaraderie was marred by tragedy, and we will never be the same. We are mourning, we are broken, we are stunned, and we are begging to know why anyone would perpetrate this act of extreme violence and hate.
Monday was a holiday in Boston. "Patriot's Day" celebrates the battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775 and is observed by Massachusetts and a few other states. This is a day when schools are closed, large sporting events take place, and everyone gets a chance to enjoy the beginning of spring. At the time of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings my immediate family was safe at home 4.5 miles away from the devastating blasts. Our children were in their beds sleeping for their afternoon naps, my husband was in the kitchen cooking, my mother visiting from out of town was reading on the sofa, I was catching up on work at the dining room table. A neighbor called to see if we were alright, and we had no idea what he was talking about. The next hour was frantic as we scrambled on phones, computers, and iPads to locate a sister, two nieces, and a nephew who were spectators at the race, and a cousin who was running. We breathed a huge sigh of relief when we finally got word of their safety, and then broke down when we learned of the deaths, destruction and severe bodily harm that befell so many other families.
It's also April school vacation week in Boston, a time to take advantage of good weather after a long winter and to visit the many public places and attractions that our vibrant city has to offer. But not this week. We cancelled trips downtown in favor of playing in the back yard, baking carrot cake, and painting rocks found in the garden. We don't have a TV, and don't want our small children to hear the brutal details being described over and over on the radio, so we sneak peeks at websites, blogs, and Twitter to stay informed, but the news remains grim, and we remain horrified, angry, and full of fear.
How can we process all that is happening? How can we comprehend the unimaginable injury and loss that so many of our neighbors are suffering? How can we not flash back to 9/11 and relive that era of terror and sorrow? I don't know. But I know we can try. I know that I am taking solace in big hugs from my children. I'm grateful for the amazing Boston community and all the immediate offers and actions of assistance provided to the victims, their families, and the thousands of marathon visitors to our city. I am writing, and creating, and making art to help me process it all, and I'm encouraging others to do the same.
Pick up a pencil, grab some paper, and let yourself go. Get out that box of collage parts from the back of your closet and see where they take you. Roll some play dough. Paint a rock. Grab some friends and create something together. It may sound small; an inconsequential endeavor when larger more important things are competing for space, but while we can't always understand what is happening in the world, we can help ourselves, and those around us, heal. One way to heal is through creative exploration. Reach out to those around you and connect. Share and come together through creativity as we all try to make sense of the irrational.
For everyone directly and indirectly affected by this deep and shocking heartbreak, know that our whole city is crying with you.