I wish I could fully describe, to non-Bostonians, what Marathon Monday means in the Boston area. It’s Patriots Day, a state holiday. All of the schools are closed, and many offices are, too. There’s Revolutionary War reenactments and parades all over Lexington and Concord and all of the other historic towns. The marathon starts at about 9 in the morning in Hopkinton, and you couldn’t miss the coverage if you tried. At places along the marathon route, crowds are five and ten deep. People take their kids to watch the runners, and the finish line is right in the middle of the city. There’s always an early home Red Sox game, which lets out in time for the baseball fans to walk the quarter mile to the marathon route and watch the thousands of runners finish the last couple of miles. It’s the most festive day of the year, it might as well be 4th of July. It’s not just a big race and some inconvenient street closings.
I was on my computer as the news of the explosions broke, a little before 3PM. I pretty much haven’t stopped shaking since. It was right around the four-hour mark of the marathon. The elite runners were long gone, the packs headed towards the finish were made up of people who were running for charity. Running as a partner for a blind man. Running to benefit kids with leukemia. I had friends who crossed the finish line 5, maybe 15 minutes before it happened. Friends who were watching from that exact spot two hours earlier. Friends who had been watching with their kids and had only just left. A friend who works a block away and was on lockdown in his office building for hours.
I am fine, my family is fine, it appears all of my friends are fine. But I am completely shaken. Injured kids taken to Children’s Hospital – I know that lobby too well. One of the fatalities – eight years old. I just can’t. I cannot.
I’m trying to focus on the immediate outpouring of good. In the split-second after the explosion, dozens of police officers and paramedics ran, without hesitation, towards the smoke. Runners who had just completed a grueling 26.2 miles kept going straight to Mass General, to donate blood. People all over my twitter feed were offering up spare bedrooms and food and wifi and phone chargers to stranded runners – so much generosity, Boston.com set up an open Google spreadsheet to help match up offers of space with people in need.
Mr. Rogers was right.
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”