After the blasts went off, we laughed.
First, though, we cried. Walking along Mile 21 in the minutes of confusion after the bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, I saw tears of frustration and anger and terror. We cried because we didn’t know what was going on, we were scared that whatever had happened five miles east of us was going to happen again, here. We cried because we didn’t know where our friends, who were running the marathon, were. Cell service was suspended and as we tried to reach the runners we were met with horrifying silence. We cried because a day that is usually so beautiful and so characterized by community and solidarity had been wrecked, and we were tired of living in a world where this sort of experience has become the norm.
We were drunk and happy, until suddenly we weren’t either. I sat, stunned, on the floor of a friend’s room in front of the TV, sober and sad. If you’ve ever experienced Marathon Monday on a college campus, you know that those two words are the absolute antithesis of what the day traditionally is. After the shock, the frustration, and the prayers, however, we laughed. We laughed when we turned off the TV and turned into each other, holding our friends and realizing that, in the midst of death, we are young and the fate of this world is something we have the immense responsibility of fixing. We need fixing, we need healing, and we need laughter. We laughed because a society that responds to horrific events such as this one with strength and composure defeats its enemy. By laughing, we engage in the spirit of community and repair. We recover, we nurse our wounds, and we move on. We laughed because things were funny and because in laughing we have a certain power over what has occurred in Boston. It promotes resilience and reconciliation. Who can tear apart a city that only laughs back in its enemy’s face?
I do not mean to imply a lack of sympathy for the families and friends of the victims of this attack. I don’t mean to downplay the horror or the confusion of what happened. I pray for the victims and those who are connected to them. I pray for Boston College, and the strength of greater Boston in the upcoming days and weeks.
What I do imply, most resolutely, is that we are not broken by the bombing. We are not discouraged. We are not defeated. We are not downtrodden.
In the late hours of last night, I received an invite to a Facebook event titled “The Last Five”, a proposal from some of my BC classmates that we walk the last five miles of the marathon together this weekend, as a community, in solidarity with those affected by the attack. Last night, there were a couple hundred attendees. Today, there are over 12,000. During this walk, we will stand together and laugh. We will laugh, maybe, because something is funny or strange or because we will remember a time where we didn’t have to be afraid of these sorts of things happening in our homes, cities, countries, or world. We will laugh because we are together and we are greater than the tragedies we are faced with. We will laugh because we are strong, we will move on, and we will tell the world that Boston is a place where happiness will overcome any instance of evil or pain it encounters.
After the blasts went off, we laughed. And we will never stop.