Monday afternoon at 2:50PM , April 15th 2013, I sat hot and sweaty on a tiny charter plane in Bimini (a small island in the Bahamas), waiting impatiently for it to take off for Ft. Lauderdale where I had a connecting flight to Boston. I was anxious to return home after 10 days away. Little did I know of the horror and tragedy taking place on the ground that moment in my home city. I landed to horrific footage and new reports of the events of the day, facebook and twitter were overflowing with marathon related posts and friends and family were texting me to make sure I was ok.
I do not consider myself to be a very emotional person. My best friend will tell you that I never cried until I was 16 (although this isn’t actually true). Being a general surgery resident, I’ve built up a tough exterior to deal with the constant stress and sadness that we deal with on a daily basis. But when I heard about the marathon bombings and started reading stories about the injured and about the heroic acts that day, my heart broke and tears came to my eyes.
As everyone has likely read by now, Marathon Monday is a special holiday in Boston; a day with over 20,000 runners and about 500,000 spectators. I saw my first Boston Marathon about 10 years ago when I went with my Tufts track team to heartbreak hill to cheer on runners. It’s hard to watch without becoming inspired. There are so many people running for a myriad of reasons: to raise awareness for cancer or MS, to honor a loved one, to overcome a personal struggle. The runners come in all shapes and sizes, they are old and young, some race in wheelchairs while others push their children in specially made wheelchairs. I got bit with the marathon bug in 2006 and joined the Tufts Marathon challenge, training for my first (and likely last) marathon. I developed a stress fracture about 6 weeks before the marathon. I was urged to stop training, let my leg heal and focus on recovery. But once you start training for a marathon, especially Boston, it’s hard to stop. Somehow, pushing through the pain I managed to finish, although very slowly. Crossing the finish line, with my parents cheering behind me, was a moment I will never forget. The next year I smartly deferred running for volunteering at the marathon and I would have been there this year, cheering strangers on had I not been on vacation.
A recent article from “The Onion” poked fun at Boston for not being a real or legitimate city, people say we’re rude and call us “Massholes”, they make fun of our driving, our accents and confusing street layout. But I’ve never been more proud to be from Boston than on April 15th 2013. Our city came together in heroic ways and stories continue to flood the internet with acts of heroism, kindness and altruism. The bombings took place at 2:50 PM, the first injured victim arrived at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at 3:08PM and was in the OR around 3:30PM- if that doesn’t scream teamwork then I don’t know what does.
This is a city with the top medical centers in the country, if not the world. We are a city of academia and innovation. We are the home to baked beans, Boston cream pie, clam chowdah, and fluffernutter. We eat more ice cream per capita than any other city (despite our freezing temperatures most of the year). We produced Aerosmith, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Mark Walhberg and more. Every year we put on the best 4th of July fireworks show in the country. We have the best sports teams…or at least the best sports fans! Whoever did this horrible act of hatred, picked the wrong city to mess with. We will and we are continuing to live our lives. As I walked around Boston, on this gorgeous day today, I did not see a city paralyzed with fear. Instead, students and others were out enjoying the sun on the Boston Common, runners were running along the Charles, the T was busy and crowded as ever. Our streets and sidewalks may be damaged, store fronts broken, our citizens injured but our spirits are not broken. Stand strong Boston!