Same Today as You Were Months Ago
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 23:10
When you awoke this morning, you were likely the same as you were last night.
By the time you fall asleep again tonight, you will likely be about the same as you were this morning, and so on.
For most people, the change in one’s life is so gradual, so imperceptible, that it is amazing one ever changes at all. Like the sun that rises and falls slowly throughout a day at the park, we are usually not surprised to find ourselves standing in the darkness—as if it is all the day ever was.
Sometimes, however, it is different.
Take, for example, streetlights. Most often, one does not notice when they begin to illuminate the city streets—it just happens sometime. On rare occasions though, one has the privilege of witnessing that miracle—when one’s eyes are randomly fixated on the empty streetlight—and then the avenue is suddenly illuminated.
There are moments, then, where change is sudden.
It has been six months and nine days since the bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. For most people—despite your fear, and your anxiety, and your grief, and your displays of support—this event was just another falling sun, leaving you only nominally affected.
But for the victims of the bombing, the change was different.
Those people mark their lives with before and after. The change was not gradual—explosions do not provide such luxuries. The victims of the marathon did not clamber into their comfortable beds after a harrowing Marathon Monday. They did not wake up the next day only a little more distrustful, only a little more disillusioned, only a little different.
No, they lost things—legs, dream jobs, the innocence of their children. And then, after lives formerly spent as members of the everyday, they became icons.
The media descended: Tell us your story.
I had the privilege of being present at a very special discussion panel at the Boston Book Festival this past Saturday called “The Boston Marathon: Telling Tragedy’s Story,” which featured journalists who covered the marathon bombing, as well as Carlos Arredondo—a widely hailed hero of the day—and Marc Fucarile, a man who lost a leg to the bombing and was the last victim to leave the hospital, 100 days after the bombing.
Before this past year, Fucarile had never attended the Boston Marathon. When he was there, watching the runners pass, he was probably thinking about his fiancee, and his son, who was five years old at the time—or perhaps he was just wondering where he might get something good to eat after the race, as people often do.
Regardless of what he was thinking—whether it was profound or mundane—it would be only a matter of moments until his primary concern would be survival. Only a matter of time before his name—his very life—would become a part of the 24-hour news cycle. Only a matter of time before he would no longer be able to walk. Only a matter of time until his life would be in the after.
For Marc Fucarile, this change in his life was definitive, measurable, visible, and eternal.
But for you, the events at the Boston Marathon six months and nine days ago are only another layer to your complicated being. Even if you were to see Fucarile in a wheelchair, discussing the events that robbed him of so much, you can still only bear witness. You can fear and grieve and support and even cry—but tomorrow morning you will only have changed unremarkably. Because you can get up and have breakfast. Because you can talk to your friends like you always do.
Because the next time you walk down Boylston St. and pass the yellow finish line of the Boston Marathon, you will pause in some silence before continuing on your way.
Later, when the streetlights turn on, you will not notice.