“Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.”
I’m sure everyone can recall where they were and what they were doing when we heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon. I was at work – looking forward to a nice late afternoon sunning on my deck – with a glass of white wine – upon my return home from said work. All that changed shortly after 2:50 pm last Monday – when the evil that crept into the hearts of two handsome young men came to fruition in a matter of seconds. Seconds that I believe changed the world yet again. Seconds that are etched in our minds as the smell of smoke, the metallic smell of all the blood, the screams of the wounded, and the cries of the bewildered and the bereaved drifted across Boston and the horrific sights and sounds filled our television screens across the planet.
My best friend, a paramedic, has volunteered at the Marathon for many years – and was stationed a mere few miles from the finish line. A high school friend, now an MBTA K-9 Police Officer – and whose brother was my first serious boyfriend, was shot at by the younger Tsarnaev before he was taken into custody. Not to mention that Boston is OUR city. Oh, us folk from Western MA piss and moan about Boston – but Boston is quintessential Massachusetts and for all intents and purposes the start -and HEART – of our Nation. Boston is , after all, where we began. An attack there hits close to home whether you live in the Berkshires or the Sierra Nevadas.
I’ve been running the gamut emotion-wise. To say I’ve been struggling would be an understatement. Profound Sadness and Grief, Shock and Horror, Indignation, Anger, Pride in our First Responders – who ran towards the danger and got everyone to hospitals and the best medical care in the world – within 20 minutes. I swing back to indignation and anger frequently, as news of the bombers’ lives becomes public. These young men come from a family who came to America as political refugees – seeking and being granted asylum. Receiving welfare benefits from the state as many immigrant families do when they first arrive. They attended the best schools in the Boston Metro Area, and the younger son even received a scholarship to attend UMass Dartmouth from the city of Cambridge. We took them in, gave them shelter – got them on their feet, provided OPPORTUNITY. I guess I feel much like George Washington must’ve felt after Benedict Arnold defected to the Brits during the Revolutionary War. After all we did for you, all the opportunities you were given here – THIS is how we are repaid? With death and carnage? You absolute BASTARDS… HOW DARE YOU? And on a day meant to represent the best in us. At the finish line of the oldest marathon in the world. The anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson took the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers for the first time and showed us all what can be achieved when we are inclusive and caring towards one another.
I think of the young family the older Tsarnaev son left behind. The toddler daughter, the wife who worked 70-80 hours a week while her unemployed husband made bombs and planned destruction. How will they live, being branded with their father/husband’s heinous actions? I think of the unimaginable pain and suffering the other victims and their families are going through. Because Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s family are victims too. I cry. Then I get angry again.
And the one place I can’t seem to get to is Forgiveness. Perhaps it is still too raw, too soon, to forgive. Maybe someday, when the stories of triumph, rebuilding, and success have come to be. When the blackness has been replaced by the light, and the tender hands of time have begun to heal us. We’re still wiping off the blood, but… Maybe. Someday. I almost feel like I am going through stages like the grieving process. Back and forth, up and down. Frankly I’m not all that interested in the “why” of all this. Religious differences have probably been responsible for more death and destruction on this earth than just about anything else except maybe the Plague. That’s the way it was, and is – unfortunately. Someone is always gonna be pissed off that we have it better than them, or we’re somehow taking something from them. It’s an ancient tune with a predictable melody. So I know what I need to know for now. That forgiveness thing though, is still eluding me. But, one thing I do know is that NO ONE is going to keep us down. We are not going to let darkness and evil win – EVER. We are – and ever shall be…. UNCONQUERED.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
~ William Ernest Henley, 1875.