One Year On: Reflections on a Tragedy

As the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing approaches, the echoes of that day still swirl in this city and in our own memories, for on a day when evil was intended, a city sparkled more brightly than it seemed possible. And the tiny buds of kindness and hope that first shot through the darkness of that long, haunting day have long since flourished and spread, and taken root in this city and its hospitals. We are a community forever bound, not by the scope of the tragedy, but by the eloquent and seamless scope of our response.

Boston Medical Center shone on that April afternoon when uncertainty and chaos were the only things of which we could be certain, when we found we had only to look to the person next to us to find a hero. And quietly heroic acts abounded — “I’ll find your family. I promise,” one nurse whispered to a terrified patient as still another tenderly washed the blood from a wedding ring to spare a family member the sight, and still another found a ride home for a wounded runner from far away. And as the madness swirled just beyond the ambulance bay, and as patients were saved and soothed and comforted, and tiny rays of hope and light broke through the darkness, the people of Boston, with characteristically quiet and unassuming grace, shone a light on the darkness, and helped a city to heal.

And even in the shadowy, fear-filled moments, when police and SWAT teams effectively shut the city down and searched for the murderers responsible, Boston held its collective breath, and never exhaled until the search was over.

And now, one year on, what remains is this: an event that may have wounded the heart of this city, instead has guided us to our best selves, to a place where we’ve always excelled — taking care of one another and doing the impossible under impossible circumstances.

Today, the cries have faded to whispers, but if you listen, you can hear their echoes still.

What’s your name? I’m your nurse. It’s okay. Hold my hand. What do you need? What can I do? Let me help.

And it is in those echoes that we see clear reflections of who we are — a true team dedicated to this city and to one another, and it is there we will find the heart of Boston — not just strong, but stronger still.

 

* Originally published in Huffington Post 4/13/14