Boston Marathon Bombings, soccer game after Boston Marathon bombings

Boston Marathon Newton Perspective

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.


Image ABC News.

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.

Boston Marathon bombings, Boylston street at Exeter

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.

Boston Marathon Bombings, soccer game after Boston Marathon bombings

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I watched it on TV miles and miles away from there and it was so devastating. I simply can’t imagine how it was and still is for you.

  2. I had not realized your office was in the middle like this. I’m so glad the Berkshires team made this gesture of kindness.

    Your post captured beautifully my thoughts on the entire experience – thank you for putting it into words.
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  3. Maria Gianferrari

    Mia–thanks for the lovely post–the flower gesture was so touching! I’m also local, a resident of Waltham, so our town was on lockdown Friday too.

    I’ve been following the story closely, so I just wanted to let you know that the two men who are circled above are not the Tsarnaev brothers, so you may want to delete this from your post. If you examine the FBI photos, you will see that they appear different. “suspect 1” Tamerlan, the older brother, now deceased, wore a black baseball cap and black jacket; suspect 2, his younger brother, Dzhokhkar (the one now in custody) wore a white baseball cap backwards.

  4. Renee C.

    Very touching post Mia. I think the shocking events at the Boston Marathon has resonated around the globe. My brother ran the marathon that day. His wife was standing in the exact spot where the first bomb went off about 30 minutes before it did. They were looking out their hotel room window at the finish line when chaos erupted. Thankfully, he had already finished and cleared the area. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by what happened that day. Glad to hear your family is all safe Mia.
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  5. What a lovely thing for them to do! May peace abound and comfort be present as life begins to find a new normal.
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  6. GaryD

    Such tragic events and beyond comprehension.

    Thank you for a really heart touching post Mia. Gosh, this is so close to you in more ways than one – runners passing your living room window and ending right outside your office. It doesn’t get much closer than that.

    And what a lovely gesture with the flowers.

    Beautiful – thank you.
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  7. Ann

    You work with Tango?! I know him! He interned at my old company! Such a small world! My worlds are colliding : )
    I didn’t realize the police have shut down buildings! Of course glad you are all safe.
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  8. Wonderful post and tribute! I can still remember 9/11. I was working as a School District Administrator in Queens. It was a beautiful day and then suddenly an eerie silence. Driving around to schools to check if principals needed help. Children not knowing if their parents working in Manhattan were safe. Smoke clouds billowing above the Manhattan skyline could be seen for miles around. Fear and uncertainty everywhere.

  9. Dee

    One of our graduate students was upset that so many people were talking about this event but not about what’s going on in the Gaza Strip. I tried to point out to her that something like this is relateable. Almost everyone knows someone in Boston or someone who ran the Marathon. But you don’t necessarily know someone in Gaza, or Afghanistan, or Syria.

    I’m glad it was “resolved” as quickly as it was. Although it doesn’t bring anyone back or take away anyone’s suffering, at least they are not still “out there.” There is some kind of resolution.

    My mom was really whigged out by it. I mean, when I worked in Newton, we would go to the Arsenal Mall for lunch. I think we’ve eaten at Andrea’s Pizza that was in all the photos the night Dzhokar was caught.
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    • Hi Dee,
      Wow, I didn’t realize you worked in Newton years back. This must be hitting close to home for you as well then. I just talked to a friend who had a friend standing at the exact same bombing spot during the Boston Marathon but 1 hour before.

      Your grad student brings up a good point that this type of violence is common in the Gaza Strip.
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