Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We are Boston

I have loved this city since infancy. I first came here as a patient of the children’s hospital, visiting for a day or two each year, longer for the five surgeries I've had over the past 20 years. As a young child with a heart condition, Boston was the place where they fixed it and gave me the chance to rock climb and go to pacemaker camp and to study abroad. I was and am lucky to have met some of the finest doctors and nurses in the world. Between hospital visits and checkups I explored the only big city I knew for the first 15 years of life. And I loved it. The noise, the size, the aquarium, the ocean lapping at the edge of the Italian neighborhood…I said I would live there one day.

And 20 years later, I do. Boston is everything to me, the true city of my heart. I am ‘from’ another part of Massachusetts but for years I have associated life and health with Boston. I lived abroad and plan to again, but I expect to raise my children in Boston. The events that marred the 117th Boston Marathon were a horrific attack of terror, but not the first I had witnessed in my lifetime. I remember the heart pounding moments of 9/11, the underground bombings of London and Madrid; occurrences that changed the landscape of modern America forever. I mourned every loss as we all absorbed the enormity of each event. Yesterday my mourning was not general or poignant. I did not just pause for a quiet moment and think of those who suffered. Yesterday, I was angry. Shaken. In attacking my city, our events, these actions had attacked me, my friends, my colleagues, my wife, my fellow citizens of the greatest city on earth. I am not na├»ve enough to think Boston was immune; I was stunned that anyone could get by us with our city pride and indomitable spirit. It was, and is like every tragedy like it, unthinkable.

But in the split seconds that followed the attack and the indeterminate hours that stretched through the afternoon, it was clear that nothing could injure Boston’s pride in itself and the love that the people feel for their city. First responders and spectators alike rushed toward the injured, their only concern to provide help to those in need. Medical professionals who had finished the race turned around and headed back to offer their assistance. Where runners were stopped along the course outside of downtown, doors immediately opened offering refreshments, shelter, companionship. Visiting runners reported that numerous Bostonians stopped them to offer them help, a place to stay, a jacket. I looked at the housing database to see if there were runners in need of shelter in the area, and there were more offers of housing that requests for. We may have been caught off guard by the bombing but Boston was ready to do the right thing. The beauty of humanity, of decency outshone the horrors immeasurably. And while it will take time to heal and come to terms with the incidents of Monday April 15, 2013 we do so together and with the knowledge that we are Bostonians, proud and strong.

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