I woke up yesterday to a text from my son showing a photo of runners. “Starting lineup,” he’d written.
I kept one eye open long enough to type “For what?”
“The Boston Marathon,” he replied.
He hadn’t mentioned that he planned to be at the marathon when we talked the night before. But that sounded fun and I was happy he was there. I got up and started in on my long to-do list in preparation for a short vacation at the end of the week.
Midday out and about, I glanced at my phone and saw a newsflash from the New York Times: “Explosions at the Boston Marathon.”
Thankfully, before I even had time to dial either child now studying in Cambridge, my daughter texted: “FYI, explosions at the Boston Marathon—none of us are near it and we’re all ok.”
After confirming with my son that he was no longer at the marathon I raced home and spent the next ten hours watching television news. I remembered why I rarely watch news broadcasts. It’s so disheartening to watch the same scenes over and over again as newscasters try and say anything useful to help clarify an incomprehensible situation.
I expect we’ll find out shortly that the madman or men who set the bombs hates America. Seems to me it’s as likely to be a homegrown terrorist as a foreign assailant. And we’ll all feel more vulnerable and wonder how to proceed.
Certainly I feel that way now. Two of my three children as well as my new son-in-law could easily have been where the bombs exploded yesterday. My son lives nearby but was volunteering at the “safe” end of the marathon 26.2 miles away and ended up hanging out with a group of friends partway back rather than another group who cheered on a marathoner buddy at the finish line 1/2 an hour before the bombs exploded.
My daughter and her husband had strolled the very area where the bombs went off the day before to show a visiting sister-in-law and husband around Boston. What if they’d decided to make the race—likely a draw for his family of runners—part of the tour Monday afternoon?
A good friend’s son was working in his office on Copely Square when he heard the explosions and dismissed them as a hoax until ordered to evacuate the building. Another friend’s daughter had been at the finish line two hours before for a corporate party. Yet another friend’s daughter had spent the weekend in Boston and was standing in the security line at Logan Airport heading back to the Bay Area when she got the news about the blasts.
We’re all sharing our stories of near misses today. Hoping to shake off the heightened awareness of our children’s mortality and the frustration at how events are playing out in our lifetimes. We’re telling our stories because we’re scared about the “what ifs” but also so incredibly grateful that our kids were spared. And our hearts are heavy for those whose children weren’t.
“I’m safe back in my room,” texted my son at the end of the day.
I didn’t text back. Instead I turned off the looping explosion images and called to hear his voice tell me the only piece of news I really wanted repeated.