Other than the first year of my life being spent in Illinois and a year in South Carolina, I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life. I have lived in small towns, and I have lived in a city, but Boston was never more than 90 minutes from my home. To me, Boston meant a place to go when you wanted a good concert, a good sporting event, an exciting museum or aquarium or an airport to take you to fabulous vacation spots. It was also a place of culture, of fancy restaurants and of some great people-watching. Never have I thought of it as a scary spot...until Monday.
During one of our state's biggest annual celebrations, and maybe THE biggest, there were two explosions. As runners completed the 26-mile Boston marathon, some of them were not greeted by the smiling faces of their loved ones at the finish line but instead were confronted with a smoky barrier and police officers rerouting them and preventing them from going to the family members they knew were on the other side of that smoke. A co-worker of my friend Maureen was at the Boston Marathon finish line with her two daughters waiting with excitement, anticipation and pride for her husband to cross that line and complete his first run of the historic event. Instead, she soon found herself scared to death, grabbing her children in fear, disbelief and shock as the explosions went off, and they were shuffled away from the finish line. They passed people lying on the ground, some bloody, some badly injured and everyone in absolute chaos. These sights are what she and her daughters see even today, days later, every time they close their eyes. Her husband writes about the experience in his blog. andsoitburns.blogspot.com
Yesterday morning on the way to work, Maureen and I were talking about how scary that experience was for Michelle and her family. Our talk led to how sad it is that a fun family event was now marred by fear and destruction and how so many people and children are going to be afraid to go to a crowded place or a big event anymore. We then talked about how scary it is to even be parents in this world and how overprotective we seem at times when our children want to sleep over a new friend's house or want to ride their bikes off the street, and how we try not to push our fears and distrust in this world onto our children because there are still good people and we don't want them to be afraid to live.
Yesterday afternoon that fear was tested. Through Facebook, I saw a newspaper status yesterday that indicated there was a missing 10 year old boy in Clinton. As I read on, I learned that boy was Maureen's son who was visiting family there on his school vacation. I cannot begin to describe the fear that engulfed me. I tried to call Maureen but got her voice mail. After leaving her a hysterical message, I paced back and forth, "What do I do? Do I drive to Clinton? Can I make the 20 minute drive?", all while my heart was beating out of my chest, and I was overcome with hysterical sobbing. I got a hold of Maureen's niece who assured me that Ross had been found and was safe. As the afternoon progressed, I learned that he had been going for a run with his aunt, and after getting a head start, he took a wrong turn. Not knowing which way to go, he kept walking, hoping to see a familiar site. Finally he came to an area that he knew was a way to get to another aunt's house and began walking there, only to find upon his arrival that they weren't home. His parents, the local police, the state police, family and friends combed the neighborhood for hours before they decided to check familiar places where he might have gone, and there they found him resting outside his aunt's house, sunburned, thirsty and tired but SAFE. He had traveled 12 miles trying to find his way, and I thank God that he had the strength and the determination to persevere until he found his way to safety and to be reunited with his family. Plain and simply put, he is Boston Strong.
Terrifying events this week, and I pray that those involved in the horrific events at the Boston Marathon will also find their peace and their safe haven in the arms of those they love.