Events of this magnitude never feel real until they directly affect you. You learn about bombings, acts of terror of the not so distant past like Waco, Oklahoma City, 9/11 – the who, the what, the where, the when – absorbing it all with a level of removed wonder. You read about it and see the video clips, taken aback at the horror but comforted by a safe level of distance. Then it happens a few blocks away from you.
Marathon Monday is one of BU and the city of Boston’s most anticipated events – I won’t pretend that for college students, the day is about much more than drinking with friends and exulting in the spectacle that the city becomes. The marathon route runs through or close to most of the campus, and it’s a safe bet that the majority of our 40,000 students are out enjoying the day, one of the few that truly unites a campus made up of such disparate parts. A great many of the students, including myself, were likely less than a mile from the explosions at the finish line.
It feels particularly cruel and ironic that such a horrific event could happen on such a day, that friends and family could be ripped from the world while others celebrate with their own. It’s shocking how quickly revelry and joy can turn to fear and misery.
In the wake of our despair over all those hurt or killed in the bombings, including one of our own, I think I speak for all when I say I am enormously grateful for the outpouring of love and kindness from all. On a personal level, there was the concerned texts and calls, the favors from strangers, the empathy offered by random faces – but nationally, even globally, the overwhelming support and compassion means so much to myself, my school, and the city I live in. It’s easy to be disheartened that people exist with the capacity to perform such a disgusting act. But then you think of the first responders, the runners who sprinted past the finish line to donate blood, the people who ran toward the blasts instead of away from them, the Bostonians who offered shelter to the displaced, and the world is not such a scary place.
It still seems surreal – you watch the news video and it’s hard to contextualize, to get it straight in your head that hundreds were hurt a few blocks from where you live, that the street you’ve walked countless times was blown to bits. Your neighborhood is being watched on the global stage; an act of terror was perpetrated right where you live.
In the immediate future, our university and our city will be filled with sad faces. People will walk with a previously unseen tentativeness, as our senses of security are no longer taken for granted. The day after seemed shrouded in a dark pall that laced every walk to class, every conversation. But Boston is known for its resilience, its strength as a city. As in many tragedies, the initial fear will be replaced by an unspoken bond, a tightened unity in its residents and a greater appreciation for this place we call home.
I don’t know what the Boston Marathon will look like next year, but one cowardly act will not change this city. I love Boston. I love Boston University. And more than ever, I’m so proud to be here.