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And we always will

sj emailed me yesterday because she knows I can’t check social media while I’m at work. She let me know there’d been two explosions at the Boston Marathon. No real news yet. Reports of possible severed limbs. Chaos.

She knows things like this bother me. She didn’t want me to be blindsided on the drive home, or by one of my coworkers. I love her for that. I love her for being that person for me.

When I got home, I made myself read the reports. Watch the videos. Read my Facebook feed, people who were looking for loved ones in Boston. We’re only two and a half hours from Boston, where I live. I’ve never been, but it’s somewhere I want to visit quite badly. I’ve always wanted to go to Boston. It seems like a magical city to me. And you know how much I love magic.

I noticed what Patton Oswalt did in the videos, in between my sobbing, watching runners falling, tripping over themselves to get away from the noise, the smoke, hearing the screaming start, the faint and horrified “Oh. Oh, oh my God. Oh,” from the newscaster who’d been planning on filming nothing more than the finish line of the marathon for some background footage.

People were running toward the explosion.

People were running toward the explosion even though there could have been more explosions. They didn’t know what had happened. It didn’t matter.

And not running toward the explosion once the screams started, and not running toward the explosion once people started dragging them over, or when people started calling for help. People IMMEDIATELY started running toward the explosion. One man said, in a thick Bawston accent that sounded like the most beautiful thing I’d ever heard in my life, “There are people that are going to need our help over there,” and immediately headed over. He didn’t say it to anyone. There was no one around him. He was saying it to himself. He was telling himself what to do. He was explaining to himself, this is what we do, when we’re needed, because there really isn’t another viable option right now.

And the people, the firemen, the National Guardsmen, the policemen, and the people who were there – runners, bystanders, just everyday people – worked together to pull down the barricades, to make it easier for emergency vehicles and EMTs to get to the wounded. Everyone became a united force. Everyone knew what they had to do. Sadly, it’s become a thing: we have experience with this now. We know what to do when the bomb goes off or the plane crashes or the man with the gun and the dead, dead eyes enters the crowded room. We’ve learned. It’s not something we should have to have learned, but it’s something we collectively have.

The news is still being guarded. By the time you read this, we might know what happened, but for now, people are saying it’s terrorism, and people are saying we don’t know yet. People are saying there’s a subject in custody, people are saying it’s just too soon to say anything. People are saying two more bombs were found before they exploded. People are saying there is video of a man with a backpack leaving the bombs in the area.

People say a lot of things, when these things happen. It’s one of the things that people are good at. We talk because we don’t know what else we can do. We talk because it keeps the gibbering maniacal panic at bay.

But for all of the talking, I like what Patton Oswalt has to say.

There are more of us than there are of them.

There are more of us that run toward the explosions to see what we can do, that hide the children in the cupboards and face the shooter with our hands spread and resolution stubborn in our eyes, that run into the burning building to bring out just one more person, if possible, just one more, just one more.

There are so, so many more of us on this beautiful, amazing, hope-filled planet.

You can see us all around. We’re in the small kindnesses; the letting of people into traffic, the kind smile of a stranger, the holding of a door, the compliment when needed but unanticipated; the bigger ones, the offer to listen, the helping each other up, the thank you for being in my life, the telling someone you love them, no matter what, for always, for forever. The small kindnesses, the bigger ones, the huge heroism. To some people, they are all the same thing. You never know if your kindness, if your hand reaching out for theirs, is the thing that saved someone’s life.

There is a lot of darkness and a lot of sadness out there right now. It’s warranted. It’s a scary time. Every day, something else. Every day, something that seems like one more step on that descent into madness.

When it gets too much, though, look at all the heroes. They’re all around you. They are infinity times infinity and they stretch on forever.

And make damn sure you’re one of them.

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

57 responses to “And we always will

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    I just can’t like this post enough. I need a bigger ‘Like’-button.

    Thank you.

    Like

  • sj

    You always have the best words.

    Like

  • Ashley Austrew

    Crying. Damn you. Thank you.

    Like

  • Cody

    Thank you for writing this. It gives hope <3

    Like

  • becomingcliche

    For some reason, this event hits me so deeply. I guess because my husband is a runner and I’ve stood at the finish line waiting for him so many times. People are heroes. It’s too bad it takes something like this to see it.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I feel the same way – my parents both ran all through my childhood, and surprisingly enough, even I ran for a few years. I knew these people. My family were these people. I was one of these people. They’re some of the kindest people; they have such community.

      We’re all heroes. In small ways, in large ways. Whether we know it or not. I’m very convinced of this. We are all someone’s hero. And every once and a while, someone tells us that, and you realize you’ve been inspiring someone all along. It’s such a humbling feeling, that something you did without knowing inspired someone else.

      Like

  • Words for Worms

    Well. It’s a good thing I wear waterproof mascara. Beautiful.

    Like

  • An Embarrassment of Freedom

    An inspiring and wise statement during this dark and horrid event.

    Like

  • Nicola

    This is beautiful. Over here in the UK, my housemate and I were going up and down the stairs what felt like all day yesterday to tell each other every time another piece of what had happened got out onto the web. I hope more people approach this awful thing in the graceful and wise way that you have.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Thank you so much. Yesterday was tough – it was hard to work through the news coming out, then coming home to videos, more news, all that data – it wasn’t the easiest to process. People seem to be handling it well – which is either because, sadly, we have practice, or because times like these being us together as humans. Or maybe a little of both.

      Like

  • Nagzilla

    My daughter and I have been having conversations lately about the meaning of life and whether people are inherently good or inherently evil. Being the optimist, I tend to try and make the case for good. Days like yesterday make my job exceedingly hard. Thank you for reminding me what I can tell her to keep the faith. Beautiful post. Thank you.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Thank you. It is tough – the bad is so much more egregious than the good, especially on days like yesterday. But there’s so much good – and there’s so much MORE good. It’s just quieter. But it’s most definitely there.

      Like

  • Gigi

    I read this on my phone earlier today (via Heinakroon’s tweet) at work and cried. I am so angry that there are still people out there in the world who think that doing horrible things like this promote their “cause” – whatever their “cause” might be – but at the same time, I am in awe of the heroes we have among us. And that no matter what, good triumphs over evil every time. Every damn time.

    Thank you for this beautiful, beautiful post.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Anyone sent here via @heinakroon gets an immediate hearty welcome. He is one of my most favorite human beings.

      Thank you so much. I can’t help but have hope. It keeps me going. Once we give in to the darkness, which is (I know all too well) easy to do, we’re lost. There’s always hope. There’s always beauty. A little boy grinned the most open, beautiful, loving grin at me today – a perfect stranger – and I grinned back, and he waved and skipped away with his mom and THAT is the world. The beauty of a child who smiles at a stranger just because he had that smile in him and he wanted to let it out.

      That’s the world I choose to see. The darkness is there, but there’s so much light. Just so, so much.

      Like

  • Jericha Senyak (@JerichaSenyak)

    Gahhhhh. I’m bawling.

    Amy, it seems like no matter what the tragedy, I can always depend on you to have a response that exactly straddles the line between deep respect and sadness for what has happened and a powerful fierce hope I need to hear. I’ve started coming to you when bad things happen because the things you say help. They really, really help. They’re beautiful and they’re intense and they come from a place of honesty and integrity that restores the broken things in me. And there’s a lot of bad things, but you’re right: there is more of this than there is of them.

    I thank the universe for that, for you, and for everyone who runs towards the fires. Not just this one, not just the American ones, but all the fires.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Wow. I – wow. Thank you so much.

      I was yelling at the radio today because the announcer kept saying that being heroic was so “American.” People giving blood was so “American.” People running to help was so “American.” No. It’s human. It’s the human reaction to seeing others in pain. It’s not a national trait; it’s a human trait. And last I checked, we’re all human beings (even though some of us don’t act like it sometimes.) This isn’t a time for jingoism. This is a time for everyone to mourn, regardless of nationality. I mourn tragedy all over the world; I don’t confine it to my country. The death of any human being matters.

      Like

      • Jericha Senyak (@JerichaSenyak)

        Yes. Yes. I was heartbroken to hear that there were coordinated bomb attacks all across Iraq the same morning, with over 30 deaths, but of course that’s “normal” now, so it was seriously underreported. The images I’ve been seeing going viral of women and children in Afghanistan holdings signs saying “To Boston from Kabul with Love” are breaking my heart. The fact that they have sympathy to spare for us kind of puts me to shame for living in a nation where a witness to the bombing is having his personal details smeared publicly simply because he happens to be a Saudi national. Mourning our own tragedies should make us more sensitive to the tragedies of other nations, especially those we actively or passively helped to create, and the great travesty for me is that it’s precisely that jingoistic hysteria that many of those nations perceive as a particularly “American” trait.

        Times like this, words like yours matter even more. Because saying these things is also running towards the fire, you know? We can’t all be on the ground, but like Mr Rogers says, look for the helpers — and I’m glad I have you to look towards.

        And your commenters, too. Everyone else who’s sending love & thanks on this thread gives me a little more hope.

        Like

  • sharpkitty

    Wow. So inspiring. I love this post. How is it that you always manage to salvage something good out of every bad situation?

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Aw, thank you so much. I don’t know – I guess I can’t live with the darkness, so I look for the light? There’s always light. You just have to look really hard for it, sometimes. But it’s there.

      Like

  • wordsmith94

    Well said, Amy. It’s good to know there is a sort of tragic beauty that comes from a disaster such as this. Even amidst death, there is the promise of life.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Thank you. Focusing on the positive is the only way I can get through the negative, most of the time.

      Like

      • wordsmith94

        No, thank you. Thank you for writing this. It is timely and relevant, and, although I was not affected by this as I live in Australia and know no one who was in Boston at the time, I believe you have communicated a message that people need to hear. So thank you.

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          You are very kind. Thank you. Again.

          Like

          • wordsmith94

            You’re so very welcome :)
            And now Texas…

            Like

            • lucysfootball

              At least that one’s not terrorism. Terrifying, and horrible, and not to lessen the fact that people are dead and injured, but it’s easier for me to wrap my mind around an accident than something someone did to others on purpose.

              Like

              • wordsmith94

                Oh, I’m so glad. Last I heard they weren’t sure whether it was deliberate or not. Such a relief to know it was an accident…well, relief isn’t the right word.

                Like

                • lucysfootball

                  Yes, some sort of accident (my dad mentioned something about water being spilled which caused an explosion? I can’t guarantee he didn’t make that up, though, he’s been known to do that…) Apparently fertilizer is very volatile, which would make me petrified to work there, or live in a town with such a place, or have someone I love work there. But then again I worry about EVERYTHING.

                  Like

                  • wordsmith94

                    Yes, I’ve heard that some people use fertiliser in home-made bombs. Very worrying. At least your worries seem legitimate and rational! No phobias I hope?

                    Like

                    • lucysfootball

                      Just stupid phobias. Clowns and people leaping out at me when I least expect it. Plenty of things I don’t *enjoy*, but I can power through those.

                      Like

                    • wordsmith94

                      My brother and I used to jump out at each other when we least expected it. From a mutual agreement, we decided to stop. But the things you do enjoy make up for the things you don’t, right?

                      Like

                    • lucysfootball

                      I’m glad you stopped jumping out at each other. Someone would have injured somebody someday, I bet. Yes, the enjoyable things ALWAYS make up for the not-so-great ones. Otherwise, what’s the point? I make sure to have at LEAST one adventure a day. At least.

                      Like

                    • wordsmith94

                      Yes, I think that would have been very likely!
                      Exactly! Exactly, exactly, exactly!! Adventures all the time :D I do the same. My latest, most memorable adventure involves racing my mother, who used the elevator, while I used the fire stairs. It turns out the fire stairs deposited me on the inside of the hospital we were visiting, and were locked from the outside. This was at night, just after it had rained, and then my mum came after me when I hadn’t come back, and we both had to walk around several blocks to get to the front of the hospital. She still hasn’t let me forget that, but I just enjoyed the overall experience of being spontaneous.
                      Have a great weekend!

                      Like

                    • lucysfootball

                      Heh, that’s a very good adventure. I haven’t had mine yet, but will before the day is through!

                      You have a great weekend as well!

                      Like

                    • wordsmith94

                      Thanks, happy adventuring!

                      Like

  • Kris

    I’ve been offline since Tuesday, because, well, because. It’s just too much. Came back today and read this. All I can say is “Thank you”. I love what another commenter said – you have “fierce hope”. Thank you for sharing that fierce hope. Thank you for helping me deal with this. Thank you for writing. For being brave and compassionate and PASSIONATE enough to write this. Thank you.

    Like

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