There are moments that just always stay with us. Sometimes the moment is a fond memory; a baby is born or the person you love kneels down in front of you. Other moments live on through memory, not necessarily because you remember them fondly, but because they shape the person you see in the mirror today. These moments are vivid. You remember where you were, who you were with, the weather outside, and sometimes even the smell in the air.
I have had a few of these moments in my life.
I can remember the first time I said, “I love you.” I remember exactly where I was, the coat I was wearing, how the chill in the air made my nose run, and how much I meant it. I remember when my little brother was born. I remember how I accidentally called him “it,” how he wore a little blue hat, and how it was the first time I realized not all babies look the same. I remember when my mother told me she had cancer. I remember how I stared at the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling, how I picked at a hole in my quilt, and how I realized having a good life wasn’t a guarantee.
I remember September 11th. I remember how my school crush was sitting across from me in class, how the librarian stopped the lesson and turned the TV on, and how unaware I was of the impact the images I watched would have on me and my country in the years to come.
I remember April 15, 2013. I remember walking back from the Red Sox game at Fenway Park with my three friends and remarking that it was strange to see so many people publicly crying. I remember getting back to my dorm room and seeing the missed calls, texts, and emails.
I remember turning on the TV and seeing my city in shambles.
It wasn’t real at first. The streets were too familiar. Those were my neighbors, friends. That was my Boston family. My backyard was on television.
Then the lockdown started. Cellphone signals were blocked, my campus gates were locked, and we lay awake for two nights while they searched for the people responsible for turning our world upside down. I remember the sirens and seeing each ambulance pass Beth Israel and the hospitals which sat right next door to my college. I remember the fear.
But more than the fear, I remember the flood of phone calls when our cellphone signal was back. The email from my host-mom in Spain who had heard what happened. I remember the police officers and first respondents. I remember the prayers and the candles lit on campus. I remember the love.
These moments define us and these moments shape us. For some time they might instill a fear in us; a paranoia when we step on a plane or train, or an extra check at security in the airport.
They also bring us together. They bind us, reminding us all that we are in this together. Reminding us all that everyone is someone. They join neighbors; they inspire love for people and families we have never met. These moments born out of hate produce love. Today is about the first respondents. Today is about the people injured, and the families affected. Today is about Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, and Lingzi Lu.
Today is not about hate, today is about love.