This post is comprised of my thoughts immediately following the bombing at the Boston Marathon. For once, I've decided not to censor myself. If you're offended by swearing, navigate away now. This is not an uplifting post. It felt like everyone was quick with a sermon, especially out here on the west coast, where Boston feels as far away as Baghdad to a lot of folks. It was tragic, yes, but everyone found some nice moral of the story. Something triumphant. That's all good and well and necessary, but sometimes you've gotta process the horror before jumping straight into the silver lining.
It always seems insensitive for the sun to shine when terrible things are happening.
Today was a gorgeous day. One for the books, I swear. And yet.
It took me weeks to cry about 9/11, but today the tears came easy. Something about it all. Maybe the streets I've walked time and time again. Remember the ghost tour? The ghosts were centuries old that night (and you remember how I couldn't watch you hang), but now new spectres linger.
The man with both legs blown to hell. My God. So much blood. In all my thumbing through archives of Northern Ireland, I've never seen so much blood. The goddamn bones sticking straight out like broken fenceposts. Last week it was Kevin Ware, but that seems frivolous. I said, "I've seen a lot of people's shinbones lately" and I laughed, but I wasn't really laughing. Fuck. I wasn't really laughing, Boston.
You ever seen your home torn apart? The place you hold responsible for the core of who you are? Jesus. And I mean it: Jesus. Where are you? I know you're here, but where are you?
I didn't know till today that Patriots' Day was our thing. I just thought, hey, California, they're lazy. They're detached. They don't know a thing about Paul Revere. Not that I'm a big patriot myself. The way I see it, all patriotism does is divide. "Patriotism is what you do. Propaganda is what the other guy does." But that's not the point. The point is…. I don't know. There is no point. THERE IS NO POINT. I keep asking the same questions What in the world exists that is worth killing for? Who in the world that is worth killing for would ask you to?
That guy with his legs blown to hell. My God. The eight year old kid. Dead. My God. There is no point to this.
I normally have something affirming to say. I have nothing.
I don't care if the bomber is white or brown or green. I don't care about civil liberties and false flags. I care about LIFE. Human life. I care about…. God help us. I care about people whose loved ones won't come home. I care about men and women who will never again walk or throw a baseball or give a high five. You're standing at the end of a race, cheering people on, and then your limbs are tossed along the street like candy on a parade route. My God, my God. Someone pull the plug on this macabre parade.
And yet life, to quote my favorite movie at perhaps an inappropriate time, finds a way. And we claw our way back from unspeakable evil like a phoenix rising from the ashes of unimaginable despair. While blood stains the pavement not so far from where Crispus Attucks took his last breath, still we rise. The home of the Idiots. The resting place of Old Ironsides. Still we rise.
I guess there's some silver lining in there somewhere--in looking for the helpers--but I hate to overemphasize it. Because someone's missing their baby tonight, and no triumph of the human spirit can dull that ache. I find it hard to declare victory over terror while the undertaker digs, digs, digs and people cry for lives lost or forever changed. If it were my mother/father/son/daughter/sister/brother/cousin/friend, how helpful could these platitudes be? When they died arbitrarily for nothing but a grudge, a whim, a grievance, a something-unknown. They lost life or limb(s) not because of any guilt on their part, but because they idly stood in the wrong place at the wrong time; because they decided to wait a minute before getting a drink of water or shuffling off into a quiet corner to call a friend.
I am no pessimist, but it is worth saying, I think, that it's no one's obligation to be a martyr. And while we celebrate the resilience of Boston and the American spirit, we should also tear our garments for those who truly paid for this moment of unity. I have hope, I have love, I have abundant faith. But the pain of empathy cuts deep in me and I wish, as if wishing could turn back the hands of time, that the enduring spirit of the American people were not so often tested; that a bunch of batshit crazy people ran 26 miles for fun and that was the batshit craziest thing that happened on April 15, 2013.