Just being there

We didn’t want to be reminded again, but here it is once more:  Property is property.  People are people.  Love is all.   Period.  No event, however destructive or stressful, is a tragedy as long as our loved ones are safe and healthy.  While we were facing the possibility of having to tear down our house, people had their limbs torn from their bodies on a Boston street.  The Monday after so many of you offered me supportive messages, friends of marathoners who brought their big-hearted support to the sidelines became casualties.  Three were killed.

The human spirit lives.  Those who populated the finish line were performing perhaps the most appreciated of all good deeds: being there.  Just being there, for friends, girlfriends, best friends’ boyfriends, daughters, sons, even strangers.  Some drove hundreds or flew thousands of miles to be there.  Many were spouses who had been there all through the emotionally and physically grueling training period.  Months, miles, expenses, injuries, frustration, doubts, tears, fears.  For many runners, training to race for a friend’s cause was an extended, intensive, and heroic way to be there.  Some spectators had supported amputees through a long, excruciating journey to their final triumph.  Now, many of those marathoners must learn how to be there for their loved ones whose loyalty landed them at ground zero of that grisly, deadly scene.

How do friends console the father of the 8-year-old killed in the blasts?  In the wake of this most tremendous loss Bill Richard, along with his brain-injured wife, must raise a daughter who lost her leg and her brother.  There are no words that will dress these wounds.  But friends try.  They bring lasagna.  They raise funds.  They rally neighbors and coworkers to help.  Visit the hospital.  Sit in silence.  Hang on the line.

Blessed be those who have been there for all the race runners.  I was one, and I remember.  A 5K, run in honor of a small hero, was big for me—and support was everything.  Blessed be those who have been there for all mourners everywhere.  I was one, and I remember.  Knitted scarves and books on loss, chicken soup and free massages, the simple sympathetic school hallway look that said, “I know.  I’m here.”  Blessed be those who have been there for the victims, the witnesses, the families of this and so many other senseless tragedies in our recent history.

And, though it is easier to make sense of a storm that holds no malice and strikes by chance, we could not fathom riding it out alone.  In the early days, my fearless girlfriends managed to get through roadblocks to bring us (and our neighbors) water, garbage bags, and toilet paper.  They drove us back and forth during the gas shortage so we could shower.  Our friends and family have given us their homes, cars, and laundry rooms; their artwork, therapeutic treatments, expertise, and home services; practical gifts, gift cards, and absurdly large sums of money.  My colleagues prepared homework packets and sub plans, brought and still bring homemade lunches, and drove me to and from work for weeks.  When we couldn’t get a U-Haul, they came in SUVs and minivans early on a Saturday, donned masks, and carried everything out of our house.  Friends and strangers are still donating to collections, furnishing our apartment and future house, and offering comfy-couch and real-bed weekends.  And they call.


You call.  You just call.  You comment, text, share, sympathize.  Thank you.  We cannot wait to celebrate with you—in our big, new, old home.  Yes, old!  We do not have to tear it down after all.  Our old ghosts will have familiar boards to rattle—until Steve satiates them with a stiff old fashioned.



7 responses to “Just being there

    • Coming from you, Charles–well. You made my day and drove home that however little time I have, I should continue to dedicate some of it to writing this blog!

  1. Jen…thank you for finding the perfect words to describe the feelings that are on the hearts of so many of us. I am sooooooo thankful that your home will remain standing…so many fun memories and laughter and now…many more to come! We love you and Steve beyond words!

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