Forgetting Boston

Somewhere on that Friday, I forgot about Boston.

Don’t get me wrong. I was plugged into virtually every part of the story that unfolded that day like an episode of Homeland. Or 24. I had the live police scanner feed playing on one computer, updates from the New York Times and the Boston Globe popping up on my phone. CNN Breaking News on my laptop. I was checking Twitter at an alarming rate. I saw pictures of SWAT teams on the streets on Instagram.

But I forgot about Boston.

I scanned those suspect pictures and tried to match them up. He could have been a former student. Maybe a past colleague. Though I was in Florida, and the odds were against it, one never knows. I watched the YouTube videos of the blast and searched out the conspiracy theories that kept cropping up in my news feed. That blast in Texas is connected! The Ricin must be part of the plot! Where is the NRA in all this?

But I kept forgetting Boston.

When it was over, I cheered with the rest of the world. I joined in the conversation with the authority of a field agent. I knew about black powder and heat sensing helicopters. I could point out Chechnya on a map and theorize about radical Islam and brainwashing and FBI deportation policies. I knew about the boat and the tarp. I knew about pressure cooker bombs.

And I wore my Boston colors and pledged to run in a race – for Boston.

But I still forgot it.

Because in between the tweets and the photos, the updates and the theories, I forgot that somewhere, a family was planning to bury a child. I forgot that the image reposted a million times on Facebook documented the beginning of a lifetime of therapy and surgery for one man. I forgot that there were families that were flying in to hospitals and facing relatives who would never be the same. I know they wanted the police to catch the men responsible. And like me, they were no doubt following the breaking stories. But in the drama and the excitement of that day, I forgot who they were.

I nodded silently about the tragedy, but it was meaningless to me. Every injury was part of the story. Part of the drama. Part of the movie that was playing out across the country.

And then I saw this picture. And I realized what I had forgotten.

This was about a backpack at the feet of eight year old Martin Richard. This was about beautiful lives destroyed on a sunny afternoon.

I forgot that. Even though I knew it. Even though I knew lives were lost. I forgot the reality and threw myself into the chase and the excitement and the real-life movie that was playing out on my phone. And on my computer. And on my TV.

Now that it’s over and the questions are coming up again about who knew what and when and how, I’m staying off the news feeds and remembering – really remembering – Boston.

Because even though it played out like a movie, there is no red carpet premiere. There is no popcorn at this show. There are people this will impact long after the news vans pull away. Long after I stop watching the breaking stories. This is a story that won’t go away for them.

And so now, with my head bowed, I can finally, sadly mourn with Boston. And always will.

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  1. Je Suis Pissed Off | Writing Elves

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