Today, in Boston, the news was terrifying, “stay in your homes, do not go outside.” The message came on the heels of the shooting of an MIT police officer. We had a decision to make: follow the caution or head to the class we came here to take. We listened to the news. The two bombing suspects had hijacked a car. There was a shootout. An MIT officer was killed by one of the two Chechnyan brothers who admitted to being the Boston Marathon bombers. The suspects were in Watertown and we had to pass through that area in order to drive from Waltham to Boston. Joe checked the train schedule, all train services were suspended.
“What should we do?” I asked.
“Let’s drive in.” he said.
“Drive in? To a city on lockdown? Will they even let us use the roads?”
“There’s only one way to find out!” he said.
We headed down to breakfast at the hotel where there were two dozen people glued to the TV with no desire to set foot outside. Apparently, one of the brothers had been fatally wounded in the police shootout. The other was still at large. Walking out the door, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Will I make it back home again?”
We drove into Boston, going around Watertown where the scene was still unfolding. Highway 90 was eerily empty for 7:45 on a Friday morning. I called my mom during the drive to tell her we were okay and not to worry, we were not anywhere near the mayhem. Why worry a woman in her late 80’s?
By the time we made it into Copley place and parked the car the city was a ghost town. Let me repeat, Boston on a Friday morning was motionless. Walking to the hotel, we stopped at a Starbucks for a coffee. We had plenty of time because there was nothing to slow us down on the ride in. We had just ordered our cappuccino before the manager approached me and said,
“I’m sorry but the Governor has decided that all business have to shut down. You don’t have to leave immediately but you will need to leave.” We picked up our coffees at the counter and followed the rest of the customers out the door without even thinking of sitting down to enjoy that “first cup.”
The hotel where the Harvard Medical School class was being held was full of patrons. They were afraid of setting foot outside.
“What’s it like out there?” one anxious doctor asked.
“It was a commuter’s dream.” I said.
They seemed mortified. Crap! That was insensitive. People were killed, why did I say that?
So I changed my tack and said, “This is a city of 4.5 million people. What’re the chances of being in the exact place, and landing in the direct line of fire from any single shooting? I have a better chance of being injured by stepping out in traffic. “
“But one of the brothers is still on the loose.” said the doctor.
“Why take that chance?” said a Canadian psychiatrists attending the course.
I later had the chance to test her question, and found out. We were notified that the class was cancelled for the day so we decided to go outside in personal protest of terrorism. Joe and I are both ex-military and we know that terrorism flourishes where fear germinates. I may have anxiety, but I believe in a higher purpose. I will not allow terrorists to take the upper hand as long as I have any control over my own fears. On the way out of the hotel, I bought a couple of books on psychiatric medications. Joe tossed them in his backpack and off we went.
The streets were bare, we could cross without even looking, not a single car on the road. Then we saw it: the huge collection of memorials on Boylston Street, a testament to love in the face of hate. It was placed at the foot of the barricades overlooking the scene of chaos and destruction a block away. One of the many memorials was from a past marathon runner. He had memorialized the three that had died from the bombing by leaving his medal as a memorial. There were 3 other marathon medals left for the fallen as well. The framed medal read, “In 2011 I had my moment and celebrated with the support from my loved ones. No one can take those memories and that moment at the finish line away, no one should try to take yours. I leave my medal for all those that never had their moments. My heart and support goes out to all. Stay strong.” ~April 16, 2013
I now have the answer to the question, “Why take that chance?”