Occasionally, I forget why I live here. And that I once loved it like an ant loves a picnic. Occasionally, when I am ensconced in my sleeping bag coat, and 19 layers of clothes, and boots that could stomp out a small Italian village, and I want to kill mother nature and all her kin, all the while craving carbs, I completely go blank about what makes Boston a slam dunk place to live.
Imagine seeing a fire. My instinct is to run as fast as I can away from it (i’m brave like that). But for some people, they gear up and dive in like an olympic athlete plunging into a pool for a score. I think they’re crazy, that I share no DNA with these people, that maybe we even come from different planets or galaxies, but hell to the yes, am I ever grateful these men and women exist.
Today my gratitude goes to the men who fought a nine alarm fire on Beacon Street yesterday, a block from where I used to live. The insane bravery and complete unselfishness that it takes to be a fireman is alien to me (not that I am not a giver, but I just don’t consider giving my life, when I give). Two men, Lieutenant Edward J. Walsh and Firefighter Michael R. Kennedy were both killed just doing their jobs. Eighteen people were injured. This is really unfathomable to me, that there are people who do this everyday, rush fiery flames to keep the rest of us safe. It’s a job description in which losing your life isn’t even in the fine print, it’s just outright on the top line.
My best friend in fourth grade, Linda’s dad was a volunteer fireman in our town. I used to like to listen to their emergency scanner. I think back on how Donald used to do exactly what those men did yesterday, when that box in their dining room used to squawk, and I can’t believe I didn’t realize I should be kissing that man’s damn feet every time I was over there.
Anyway, I remember realizing the courage and conviction of firefighters and all emergency workers during 9/11. They got my full respect in a brand new way. And since then, I’ve had two brushes with them in my own house, where each time, they ran smack right into our stupidity within minutes (once for a candle left unattended, which almost wiped up my entire closet of photos, from back when you got them developed at CVS, and another time when my husband put a rubberized pillow in the dryer, which burned out the engine of said dryer, and caused the need for a brand new washer and dryer–note to self, give explicit instructions when Peter’s doing laundry). They don’t hold back, they are there to save you and your house. To serve and protect. Plus their often hunky and sweet, as an added bonus.
I always say thanks when I can to a firefighter. I always pull over really fast when they’re zooming down the road with their sirens blaring. I always smile at them in a way that shows my deep respect when I see them on the street. My son Jake is pledging a frat right now and he talks about the “brothers,” but if you really want to see a brotherhood, it’s these guys. And today, I thank them. All of them. For yesterday and everyday.
I’m interrupting the guest-a-thon for this important message. To the bombers of the Boston Marathon, I have two words: Fuck you.
While your pathetic actions have left thousands of people injured, body and soul, you won’t take away the spirit of our Boston. Or the world.
Because people are good.
For every person or political party like you, there are millions of people like the runners of the marathon. Their hearts and minds are true. Their commitment to conquer 26.2 miles for the love of a sport, a cause, or a personal goal make you look silly. Because you can’t blow up their spirit, or their determination. For every cowardly person like you, there are policemen and firemen and plain old citizens who put their lives on the line to help others who encounter unspeakable disasters. There were thousands in this case, and there will always be thousands and thousands who will lay it all down for the good of another. You can’t bomb that kind of spirit. You can’t kill that kind of humanity with an explosive.
But you can, and did scare us. You can and did temporarily make us feel afraid. And you can and did change lives yesterday. If that was your point, and that feels pretty pointless, you can feel pretty good about yourself. But here’s the thing, we will recover. We will be different, but we will recover. Because we are strong. We are stronger than you are. We are stronger than ball bearings flying through a spring day to kill and maim. We will be ok. Eventually, we will be ok. Not the same, but better.
But you will not. Because every night, just before you go to sleep, you will know. You will know. You will know who you are. And so will whoever put you here on this earth. And that is real terror. You will have to live with your actions. I don’t envy that. Because in the end, at the end, it will be you who suffers most. It will be you who won’t recover. It will not be us.
My best love goes out to all those families whose lives have been changed by watching a marathon. I will keep you in my heart. Always.