Like the rest of Boston, I am still reeling today from the attacks at the Boston Marathon yesterday. No matter whether you live in Boston currently, or have moved on to a new place, everyone who has been blessed enough to call Boston home knows the magic that is Marathon Monday. On Comm Ave, the trees are blossoming, and I assure you there is nothing more beautiful than Boston in the springtime. Families on April vacation are freed from the indoors to explore their city, and college students - who can practically taste summer - take to the street to celebrate life by punishing their livers. The first time that I watched the Boston Marathon in Kenmore Square, I was in awe that an event could be so life-affirming.
All tragedies are awful, but I learned yesterday that there is a unique and heart-wrenching ache when the bombs are placed on sidewalks your feet have touched, and the wounded are wheeled along a path you used to walk to quietly take in the spring.
Fortunately, the spirit of the marathon was reflected in the response. When we see pictures of people running toward the blast, and read stories of everyday Bostonians offering up their homes to visitors, we can see the good. Today, I visited a middle school, sitting in on a media class for a story I am writing. Class opened with a brief discussion of the bombings, and when the students were mostly silent, the teacher urged them to remember the words of Mr. Rodgers, and "look for the helpers." Look for the people who put themselves aside in the face of danger and tragedy to help others. In Boston yesterday, there were plenty of helpers.
Being a writer certainly affected my reactions after hearing the news. I hugged my husband, and told my family I loved them, but then I turned to my journal. A long time ago I wrote down a quote: I write to find out what I am thinking. When the unimaginable happens, putting pen to paper (and later, fingers to keys) is the best therapy.
As a journalist, I have to consider what is the proper way to cover such an event. I can't imagine the scramble to get the information out to millions of scared, confused, and angry people. National Public Radio continues to amaze me with their reporting skills. They resisted the urge to report the latest whispers, and stuck to the facts. Although they were not the first to report many aspects of the attack, they did not make the mistakes of reporting false information, like so many other outlets. I'd imagine it takes a strong team to be so patient, but as a consumer, it was incredibly valuable to know that I was only getting the facts.
In addition, the space NPR provided to callers to share their stories was a refreshing change from the awful video shown again and again on television. As horrible as some of them were, sharing experiences is no doubt a healing process. Whether it is tragedy, joy, fear, or pride, by sharing stories we connect with people we have never met, and may never see. That's the amazing power of words.