Run to Help

Last night I was all set to go with a humorous blog post today when Husband called down the stairs, telling me to turn to CNN.  Something about a suspicious explosion in Boston.

My heart sank just hearing the words.

I turned the channel and together we sat, eyes glued to the television, listening to the announcers cobble together the bits and pieces of information trickling in. We searched the looping video over and over again, scouring it for new angles, clues, answers.

None were forthcoming, of course, although it’s human nature to look for answers and their close relative, blame.

This post isn’t about that aspect of the explosions, now classified as bombings. It isn’t about the source of the bombings, potential suspects, the twisted reasons that will never, ever be good enough.

We were too busy making a mental note of all the people we know in the Boston area: Husband’s brother, his former wife and our two nieces, a friend from when we were twenty-somethings we keep up with on Facebook who was there with her partner and friends cheering on other friends who were running, one of my best friends from high school and her family, the son of an old  friend, the daughter of another, a serial expat (now repatriated) I’ve gotten to know a bit in recent months.

The sinking feeling worsened as the minutes ticked by. I was calm, yet I had a queasy feeling in my stomach. My chest was tight. My arms were crossed, hugging my body. I focused on the scenes flashing in front of me, anything to keep my mind off another time, another place.

This isn’t about September 11th. Whatever this turns out to be, this is about the people in Boston, those runners – those marathoners – their friends and family members nearby, the crowds of people enjoying a holiday from school and work. This isn’t about that day, it is about April 15th, 2013. This is about April 15th in Boston.

By the time I slipped into bed I’d seen the FB message from my friend that they all were safe yet shaken amid the ensuing bedlam. She was scared. She wanted a stiff drink. She wanted to throw up.

That made two of us. And likely many more.

As I lay in bed later, overly tired but my mind too active to fall asleep, I began to do a mindfulness body scan. You do your best to relax and then, one by one, assess each part of your body. Starting from toes to foot to knee to leg and further, up one side and down the other, you concentrate on each part, determining how it feels.

By the time you end up back at the toes of the other foot, your mind and body have usually relaxed enough to drift to sleep.

Not this time, but I was still calm. I had been calm watching the television, I was calm lying in bed, I was calm when I awoke this morning. I’ve been calm all day. I am still calm.

I have learned to remain calm, to be calm.

I know how to turn off that part of my mind, take the memories and put them in a little compartment where they are safely tucked away.

I rarely take them out, although from time to time I do. But it is never on a day like yesterday, or a day like today.

Today feels mournful in a quiet, composed sort of way. Not only for the victims, their families, those who witnessed it all, but also for a world in which things like this happen.

I am not a voyeur, or someone who reacts to horrific events as if they happened to me personally. I empathize, oh yes I empathize. I feel compassion for those involved, it saddens me deeply. But I know it’s not my story. I know my story, and I know not to take on stories that are not mine. I know where the line is drawn, and I don’t cross it. I don’t dare cross it.

As I trudged back from Albert Heijn with the makings of tonight’s dinner, I encountered three young children at different points along the way. A boy, a girl, another boy. Different races, different ethnic groups. Yet all were roughly the same age, three or four.

Not old enough to be aware of days like yesterday, to know of events like Boston.

Not old enough to have their minds warped by whatever makes someone plant bombs where people gather to celebrate the accomplishment of active bodies running 26.2 miles.

Many of the injured have lost limbs. The irony is not lost on me.

Much has been made of the immediate response, people – police, emergency responders, National Guard personnel, race volunteers, runners, spectators, average people  – running toward the explosions. Towards the injured, the dying.

Running to help.

What I want is a world where little children like the ones I saw this afternoon here on Ten Hovestraat, and elsewhere around the globe, grow up to be those who run to help.







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