In the two-and-one-half years that I’ve lived in New Orleans, I’ve never once missed my former hometown of Boston. It’s not that I have anything against Boston. I don’t. It’s just that, as I have told more than one person, my Boston chapter was done. Boston was good to me, I was good to Boston. I was grateful to Boston, but I didn’t miss her.
When those two bombs exploded, all I wanted was to be in Boston. To hold my friends. To hold my city. Boston, it turns out, is not– was not– a chapter. Boston is, forever and always, family. Not just the people. The city.
And, when your family is hurt and in pain, all you want is to run to it. Which is how I felt hour after hour yesterday.
When I first heard. When I first saw.
It’s what I wanted to do when I breathed a sigh of relief around 6:30 last night after everyone I knew who had run the Marathon, everyone who lived nearby, and everyone who might have been in the reviewing stand checked in.
It’s what I wanted to do late last night when I heard from an old political buddy that his wife indeed was among the injured. And first thing today when my former acupuncturist checked in to say he had a client in his chair who was in tears. Three of her friends lost their legs yesterday.
And it’s what I wanted to do when a woman who is like a sister to me called, in tears, this morning at 5:30. She told me that she kept thinking of a tourist she met on Sunday. He had asked her for directions to the Old North Church. She saw him again yesterday, plastered on so many Facebook posts. He was in an AP photo. Running from the smoke. “What do I do?” she asked. I, the non-Christian, told her the only thing I could think of. The only thing that made sense: “Go to church.”
Why do I write this? I don’t really know. I guess it’s partly selfish. Writers write. And writing, in some way, helps the helplessness I have felt sitting here, 1500 miles away from a dear, cherished family member. Boston was there for me, day in and day out, for 19 years. She taught me how to come out, how to fight not only for my rights but also for all rights. She taught me about love. Marriage. Shoveling snow. Boston held me close when I came home from the deaths of my grandmother, my stepfather, my father. And she awakened my spirit from a long, cold slumber.
God, I wish I could be there for her now.
I also think I share all of this because I am reminded today of the words of an Alaskan mayor who testified before my former boss’s congressional committee after the Exxon Valdez spill. Speaking of the destruction before a panel of Congressmen from across the country, he said, “The two most beautiful places in the world are where I am from…and where each of you are from.” I think we all feel that today. John Kennedy famously said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Last night and this morning, newspapers, buildings, Facebook profiles, Tweets and more all said “I am Boston.” But, we also should say, today, and everyday, “I am home.” Because we are. All of us. Home. Wherever we are. One home, one family.
And we look around, on days like yesterday, on days like any day. And we pray that our beautiful place, can be safe from harm and destruction and terror. And we hope that someone, some being, somewhere, hears our prayers. For Boston. For Newtown. For Syria. For Afghanistan. For home.
Mostly, I know I share this because I want to honor little Martin Richard, the 8-year old boy who was killed at the finish line, where he had come to cheer on his dad. Children are our innocents. The ones we expect to live forever. They lighten our hearts and lift our spirits as their joy fills a world that can at times seem so dark. And, sometimes, they teach us, as Martin Richard did in a photo of him that is circulating on Facebook today. Smiling, he holds a sign that he made.
The sign reads: No more hurting people. Peace please.
Yes, please. Peace.
Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net or email him at email@example.com.