18 Apr

I don’t really know where to start when it comes to the subject of tragedy. I am a college educated, 26 year old girl who lives in a great city ten minutes outside of Boston where 98% of my loved ones are only a quick drive away. A half an hour at most. My entire life has  thus far been a series of good things happening to me. My parents are loving, nurturing people who are still alive and very happily married. My entire family is still in tact with no tragic problems. Only the kind of problems that every “normal” family has. Whatever that means. I am poor in that I could not afford to buy a big house or have 5 kids, but not poor in that I struggle to pay rent, or that I couldn’t afford to book a tropical vacation right now, if I wasn’t saving up to buy fancy invitations for my wedding. I have a beautiful diamond engagement ring from the best guy a girl could ever pray for while watching Cinderella as a child. I have a decent and steady job. I go to Brant Rock a few weekends of Summer where my parents have an RV a couple hundred feet from a beach called Blue Fish Cove. I have no tragic problems.

To someone like me, a tragedy is when I have to work on a really nice day while my friends are Instagram’ing themselves day-drinking on a roof deck. A tragedy to me is missing the first 15 minutes of some crappy reality show on Tuesday nights because I don’t get out of work until 9pm. A tragedy to me is walking to the T in the rain, then missing my train because the Charlie Card machine is malfunctioning.

You probably understand that what I am trying to say is that my life is not tragic. It’s the opposite. I go to work every day, stop for a sugar free Red Bull at the same gas station on Old Colony Avenue in South Boston. I listen to the same radio show program every morning. I beep at people who cut me off and curse at people who won’t let me merge into another lane – another tragedy (to me). I sing loudly when Justin Timberlake’s new song comes on during my commute back to my city that is ten minutes outside of Boston. I cannot comprehend what a real tragedy is. It is impossible because I have never experienced it directly.

When the bombs went off Monday at the 117th annual Boston Marathon, I had a day off and I was down the Cape driving aimlessly with my fiance just because we could. I was behind the wheel and he was on his phone. As he scrolled Facebook, he wondered out loud what had happened. He read off Facebook statuses of our friends and family members. I called and texted some of my friends who I knew had headed into the city earlier in the day to partake in the annual party that belongs to Boston. All of my friends were okay. I could comprehend my fiance’s words as he looked into and read off the breaking news headlines. I could comprehend that this event was awful and most certainly a tragedy. I could cry because I comprehend that the people and families affected were suffering from total heartbreak and pain. I can empathize with them and speculate that they will be sad for a long time, maybe forever.

But I could and can not comprehend these things the same way everyone who was directly affected by this REAL tragedy are comprehending them. Because when real tragedy happens,  those affected directly are permanently branded, forever. The sense of vulnerability they feel is one billion times more intense than mine because they were the ones who the tragedy struck. They will feel empty without their loved one breathing in the bedroom next to theirs at night. They will feel paranoia like no other because they have already been a part of something terrible happening to them. They will feel like a slab of meat that can be struck and torn apart at any given moment. An extreme I don’t think anyone can comprehend unless they live it.

Someone like me will go through the motions of being indirectly affected by the tragedy. I will feel weird and dazed for a few days as I go through the motions  of my routine life. I will listen to the same radio station, and tear up as they talk about the tragedy. I will stop at the same gas station on Old Colony Avenue in South Boston to get my sugar free Red Bull. I will still sing when Justin Timberlake’s new song comes on during my commute back to my city ten minutes outside Boston, though it will only be bits and pieces whispering the lyrics without really listening, and my windows will be up. But I won’t beep at anyone who fails to let me merge into their lane for a little while, nor will anyone at me. No one has beeped at me, an aggressive, Caucasian, female driver, since Monday. I will just do all of the same meaningless stuff feeling a little empty and vulnerable and pissed off for a while. When I blog about my first world problems, I will feel like even more of a spoiled and jaded douchebag. But my life, and yours will go on because we are alive.

I’m not sure what my point here is. A tragedy happened and this time, it wasn’t in New York City. It was in the city we sometimes complain about commuting to Monday-Friday. The city those who have children bring said children to, to visit museums, and ride Swan Boats, and watch over 26,000 people run annually for thousands of good causes. It is a tragedy that hit too close to home for me and a million others like me. I still cannot wrap my head around this tragedy, but I am so proud to have seen the reaction to this tragedy: togetherness, love, support. I hope and pray that we, as a whole, never lose  the empathy we possess for those who were struck, even if we cannot comprehend the heartbreak and pain firsthand.

So instead of walking quickly through your routine with your head buried in your smart phone in this beautiful weather, walk a little slower, smile more often, say thank you to those men and women standing outside your building downtown with giant guns to protect you from what could have been another potential tragedy, and most of all: be kind. After the events that occurred Monday, we are reminded for a second time since 2001, that our worlds can stop spinning at any moment, and we need that empathy from strangers. beantown


One Response to “Tragedy”

  1. tom mckenna sr April 24, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    A wonderful piece Molly, beautifully expressed. Love Dad

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