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Personal Reflections of a Tragedy

Posted By Jonathan Noel, Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I’m not going to recount what happened on Monday in Boston. There are plenty of news reports to do that.

I’m not going to give an eye-witness account. I wasn’t there when the bombs went off.

And while I can’t describe how the panic, confusion, and chaos must have felt, I can tell you how I felt that afternoon.

I got chills watching the news unfold about what happened. I walk down Bolyston Street on a regular basis. I’ve been in those stores and eaten at those restaurants. I get my hair cut a block away. The Boston Public Library is across the street from 1st bomb, and my bank is in the Prudential Building, across the street from the 2nd bomb.

It gives me chills just to type the words "bomb" and "Boston" in the same sentence.

Part of me is not surprised that something like this occurred. In the past few years, we have had shootings at movie theaters, schools, and places of worship. We have had threats or attacks in Times Square, at a Martin Luther King Day parade, and on board airplanes. It has happened in places that I can and cannot imagine. So, no, I’m not surprised it happened in Boston.

What has surprised me is how people around the city have reacted. Stories of people inviting total strangers to spend the night after Bolyston Street was cleared out. Stories of runners, exhausted after the Marathon, literally running to hospitals to donate blood. Seeing the video of how the first responders and bystanders didn’t hesitate or waiver to help the injured in what can only be described as chaos.  If Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, Boston is your extended family. 

But still, from a day that was reserved for celebration: Patriot’s Day, the Boston Marathon, the anniversary Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, and a walk-off win by the Red Sox, we now get a day of mourning and remembrance.

I wish I could give a stirring speech on how this demonstrates the importance of emergency preparedness or on how we shouldn’t cut public health budgets.  I wish I could give that rousing public health speech that will turn our sadness into motivation.  But I can't.  That’s not where my mind is at the moment.  My mind is in a decidedly un-public health place.

I'm not thinking about the city or the population.  I'm thinking of the individuals.  I'm thinking of the victims.  Of the Heros.  I'm thinking what would I have done if I was there.  And I'm thinking that it could have been me.

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Elaine Abrams RN says...
Posted Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Thanks for this, Jon.
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