Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Aftermath

Earlier today my "little" sister posted on her Facebook page how she's feeling after yesterday's bombing in Boston. Fortunately she was not in the vicinity of the bombing but at work many blocks away. She and her coworkers experienced the tragedy by watching helicopters hovering over the bomb sites, listening to screaming ambulances speeding to rescue the injured. Helpless. Worried. Curious. They spent half the afternoon on the phones reassuring family and friends of their safety. As one of those family members, let me tell you, there were a lot of sighs of relief, a lot of "thank God" utterances throughout the country. Boston is a small city. It's no New York in size or global reach. But it's clear from the nationwide response that everybody LOVES Boston. There was an immediate and continuing outpouring of support. Americans once again coming together in the face of tragedy.

Today those feelings are turning into anger. As my sister said, she's mad. Spitting mad. In the street vernacular of Bostonians that translates into "I'm pissed. Wicked pissed." I don't blame them. I'm wicked pissed myself.

I'm 600 miles away from my hometown but thanks to my cellphone and Facebook I was able to connect to my family in Boston. And thanks to CNN I was able to keep up with what was happening. But still, there were feelings of helplessness and anguish. You know this is a huge event, you know the impact on the city, you can imagine the physical pain and fear the victims are experiencing, more fear and uncertainy from bystanders. And yet you can do nothing.

But you also feel pride. The first responders immediately ran towards the bombing site. Into the smoke and debris and the blood. Always the blood. Literally the lifeblood of a small city that is more family than citizenry. And it wasn't just the well-trained police and fighter fighters that ran towards the site. There were medically trained volunteers who were there to help runners. The nurse who lives across the street who expected to spend the day wrapping people in foil blankets, offering words of encouragement and sips of oxygen to replenish depleted lungs. The doctor who treats your kid's earaches who runs to stay healthy and loves volunteering at the finish line, knowing he will be treating exhausted runners, some with blisters, one or two who may have cardiac issues. Suddenly, unexpectedly, they found themselves in what many have described as "a war zone." They were prepared. They were joined by civilians with no special traing who just wanted to do something, anything, to help. Pro footballer Joe Andruzzi, who has previously been honored for his courage and community service, was photographed in the midst of the commotion, carrying a stranger to safety. Joe used to play professional football for the New England Patriots. He doesn't play football anymore, but he's still a patriot. There were other patriots there as well. Soldiers, some of whom had just returned from deployment, rushing in wearing camouflage uniforms, clearing debris, making way for the medics to get to the wounded.

The volunteers at the finish line were prepared for runners limping into the aid station for low to medium level first aid problems. What they didn't expect to be doing was running towards a bombing site. What they didn't expect to be treating were the effects of a concussive blast, people who lost limbs, victims in shock full of shrapnel and shards of glass. But respond they did. Their selfless acts likely saved a few lives today. Lives that will be forever changed but lives that will recover. People who will one day tell their grandchildren that their scars came from That Day. The day war came back to Boston, the town-cum-city where war gave birth to a nation.

What comes from this act, we don't yet know. Who caused it, we don't know. But one thing is sure. A country will avenge but a city will heal. It will be hard. Damn hard. There will be a lot of hurt, pain, frustration. But the healing will come. It will come.

First, though, there's anger. People are mad. Spitting mad. You could say that's one of the steps of grief, but right now it is what it is. People...are...pissed.

 The people responsible for this heinous act will regret messing with the people of Boston because when we're driven to the point of "spitting mad" the bad guys better beware. We are Bostonians. We are New Englanders. We are AMERICANS and we don't put up with this shit.