My puppy woke me up at 4:30 this morning. An hour earlier than usual. I staggered out of the bedroom, told him to shush, and tried to go back to bed. He started barking again.
After the third trip from the bedroom to the back door, I gave up on sleep. I put on a pot of coffee, made myself some toast and sat down to write a blog post. I had an hour of free time before it would be light enough to take Buddy for a walk.
At 5:00am, just as I was at the halfway point of my blog post, my Facebook timeline exploded.
“What’s happening in Boston???”
“Is it true? Were there bombs?? Is anyone hurt??”
“The news is saying two people are dead in Boston. Are you guys okay? Were you there?”
I could barely bring myself to click on the news links.
Not again, I thought. I just can’t take it.
And then, I hope no one I know was there.
I looked back over my half-finished rant about a very First World Problem and I hit the ‘delete’ button. And then I read the news.
But around and around in my head went a single thought. This is so epically unfair. Not the loss of life, or the injuries, or the shattered innocence of the children who were at ground zero this time around. That was all too much to process at 5:00 in the morning.
I just kept thinking about the runners.
The other competitors.
The people who had trained and trained and trained to run the marathon.
The people who made it almost 26 miles — and then watched the finish line explode.
The runners who (mercifully) hadn’t made it to the end. The ones who were within a mile of their goal, and were then redirected elsewhere.
For those people, that race will never be finished.
It will never be over.
No matter how many other marathons they run, in their heads they will always be half a mile, or a mile, or ten miles from the end of Boston 2013, watching as the finish line vanishes in a blast of flame and terrorism and unfairness.
Later in the day, when the dog had been walked and the children fed and dropped at school, when I was standing in the supermarket trying to decide whether to buy lemon or lime scented dishwashing liquid, the full weight of the tragedy hit me.
The true epic unfairness.
The unfairness of good people killed in the midst of a celebration of strength and fitness.
The unfairness of people injured, lives derailed, and a long-held tradition besmirched with blood.
The unfairness of small-minded people committing evil acts.
You’d think that by this stage of my life, considering the number of times I’ve grieved and emotionally bled for victims of terrorist attacks, I would have developed some kind of coping mechanism; some kind of system where I could hear about tragedies and just be okay.
But I haven’t.
So I stood in the supermarket, one hand hovering in front of the dishwashing liquid, and I cried.
And then I came home.
Because there’s more important things in the world than washing dishes.
When I got home, I re-read Patton Oswalt‘s statement. I shared it on Facebook this morning, but it wasn’t until I read it again that I was truly able to appreciate the message of hope he offers. Here’s what he had to say:
Boston. Fucking horrible.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
Just take a moment and say it with me.
“The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
It doesn’t change what happened in Boston. It doesn’t minimise the terror or the grief or the sadness. But it does give me hope.
I hope it does the same for you.