I left Boston seven months ago. I lived in the metro area for almost nine years, and grew up within an hour's drive of the city.
So, though I'm three hours behind and 3,000 miles away, I am still pulled into this storm of emotions including rage, sadness, confusion, helplessness, and, for sure, some hometown pride. I knew several people running the race, plus some spectators, volunteers, and people who live and work in the finish line area, so I was relieved to see all the "we're OK" messages pop up in my Facebook news feed. No one I knew was physically hurt, but I can't imagine how terrifying it all must have been for anyone in and around the city that day.
Maybe it's inevitable, then, to be hypersensitive to other people's reactions to a tragedy that hits so close to home. One running blogger wrote that she "could have just as easily been in Boston that day." But she wasn't; not even close. Another wrote that if she had been running that day, her projected finish would have been at the same time as the explosions. But she wasn't running that day. What's the point of saying something like this, anyway? I mean, I guess I could have been in Boston that day, too, had I not moved to California. In fact, if I still lived in Boston, I would likely have been volunteering at the race, maybe even at the finish line. But I wasn't. It's a moot point that takes what happened and makes it all about me, which, obviously, it's not.
Maybe this is how some of us make sense of the guilt we feel when other people get hurt and we don't. I don't know. Maybe it's just easier to nitpick other people's words, or roll my eyes at the over-the-top sentimentality all over social media, cringe at corny, trite Facebook memes, and question all this supposed "praying" going on when I just plain feel terrible about what's happened.
I read a headline this morning that said, "Tragedy is not a competition." It's not all about you, and it's not all about me, but each person who mourns represents a piece of the story, no matter how small that piece might be. I think we owe it to Boston to remember that.