Amid the bedlam, terror and despair, we must focus on this. We must never forget this: Goodness still abounds. Courage is plentiful. People can be, and often are, heroes.
As the surreal video of the Boston Marathon bombing looped over and over on TV, I, like so many other Americans, sought a sliver of solace in the scenes. And it came. Everywhere help, everywhere kindness.
So when you read about the 8-year-old who was killed waiting for his father to cross the finish line, shed a tear or two and swallow the lump in your throat. I did. His name was Martin Richard, and he loved to ride his bicycle and play baseball. Among the family members he leaves behind is a mother who required brain surgery and a sister who lost a leg because of the explosion. Yes, evil exists, no question about it.
But focus on this. In the same fiery place Martin’s life was cut short, people were running toward the explosions instead of running away. At the time, nobody knew if they were the first of many blasts. One of those helpers was a man in a cowboy hat who was at the race to support a group running for fallen veterans, including his Marine corporal son, who was killed in battle in Iraq.
If that doesn’t spell B-R-A-V-E, I don’t know what does. I hope that I would have the nerve, the presence of mind, the sheer fortitude if faced with similar circumstances.
And when you hear the gruesome details of the injuries — the blast victims in critical condition with amputated limbs, shrapnel wounds and serious orthopedic and neuromuscular trauma — take comfort in the thought that Boston has some of the best hospitals in the country. Allow yourself a prayer of thanksgiving for your own health, however poor it might be.
Then focus on this: Vivek Shah, an orthopedic surgeon at New England Baptist Hospital in Roxbury Cross, Mass., had just finished running 26.2 miles when he switched from competitor to doctor. No chance to catch his breath, no chance to give himself a pat on the back even as his feet throbbed and his calves ached. He told the media his medical experience didn’t prepare him for the injuries he saw on the sidewalks of Boylston Street.
“In all my medical training, I have not seen things that I saw [Monday]. Everything was traumatic,” Shah said. But his compassion and his humanity were intact.
And in the coming days, when details emerge about the monster or monsters who perpetrated this incomprehensible crime, when the news sinks in that the marathon started with a moment of silence for the victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting, when the lifelong trauma to runners and onlookers begins to manifest itself, consider the unexpected champions who rose to the occasion on a brisk Boston afternoon.
The owner of El Pelon Taqueria who handed out water, soda and watermelon juice to the runners.
The Good Samaritans who offered cots, couches and beds to stranded marathoners.
The Lutheran pastors walking, Bibles in hand, providing comfort to those who needed it.
Focus on this. Focus on the generosity borne of tragedy. Surely it will get us through.
Follow Ana on Twitter @AnaVeciana.