The Boston Marathon bombings hit a little too close to home. My office is a few buildings from the finish line but thankfully my work colleagues, friends and families were spared. My work friend, Aaron Tang (“Tango”) shot images immediately after the bombings from our 4th floor office window which has a clear view of the finish line. They ended up everywhere including CNN.
My building, at the corner of Exeter and Boylston, was between the two explosions. It’s the shorter one with red brick facade. I think being on the corner saved us as the rest of the block on either side are continuous buildings that touch each other.
As soon as the bombs went off, my office was evacuated by authorities who spent over a week there, not allowing anyone access to our building. Our office is still closed. Not a good week for our HQ where we have 4 floors above the retail space. It’s not like we want to impede FBI progress, but it’s hard for my colleagues to be displaced without warning. We hope to gain access to our building tomorrow, 9 days after the bombings. My friend Jenny said, “I’d give anything for a boring day at work.”
Image Aaron Tang in the New York Post. This early image incorrectly identified the brothers but photos from bystanders helped tremendously in identifying the suspects so quickly.
We were the lucky ones though.
My daughter’s 5th grade teacher knew Krystle Campbell. My dad friend Josh knew a mother and child from growing up in Brookline who are still in the hospital . He said the child was fighting for his life but the status on the mom was unknown to him. My Zumba teacher Alexa knew Krystle.
My mom friend Chris, a professor at Boston University, attended the funeral for 23-year-old graduate student Lu Lingzi. There were 1200 in attendance. Lu worked for my friend Chris’ research collaborator.
My mom friend Alison is the women’s soccer coach at Boston College. Her assistant coach, Kia, lives in Watertown, two buildings over from the first episode in which the older brother died. At 4:30 in the morning, gunfire and bombs were exploding near her assistant coach’s residence. She thought she was going to die. She plays for the newly revived professional women’s soccer team, The Boston Breakers. They had an early flight that morning for a game in Kansas City, their first of the season. Kia could not get out. Her building was part of the perimeter that was locked down, cordoned off with yellow caution tape. In solidarity, her team did not board the flight and the game was rescheduled.
There seems to be two degrees of separation in a small city like Boston. Everyone is affected.
Although we were out of town all week in Florida, the marathon is a big deal to us because it literally goes by our living room window. In years past, we watched and cheered. There is always a older dad pushing his son in a wheelchair that made me tear up.
We look for our friends running both for a time and for charity. The runners thin out where we are a few miles from Heartbreak Hill so you can actually spot a friend. Once, I even had my business school friend, Mark S. from California, pull over to chat with me as he made the turn.
Our neighborhood turns into a party. Kids roam in loose packs, hanging out at various houses. It’s a glorious day.
After the shock of the week’s events, we returned Saturday night to Newton. By Sunday, it was business as usual. My kids had games and practices. Grasshopper and Sensei‘s club soccer game was 2.5 hours away in the Berkshires. After the game (they tied 3-3), the opposing team hung around as her team had their post-game meeting. Her coach, his back to the other team, thought the girls had the attention span of toddlers. Then he saw.
Each girl had a flower with a message that she wanted to give to one of our players. The Berkshires <3 Boston.
It made a difference.
Thank you to the moms who thought of this. And to the mom who ran out to buy the flowers on what I’m sure was a busy Sunday morning. Thank you to the girls who wrote the messages for each individual flower. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. The kind gesture during a terrible time. Thank you.
We are #BostonStrong perhaps as the hashtag says and as the late night TV hosts suggest. But we are hurting and in shock. And things will never be the same. But the kindness of strangers makes us remember that for the man’s inhumanity to man that we witnessed, there is a equal and opposite reaction. It’s called the kindness of strangers. Thank you for this reminder during this difficult and frightening time.