Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my apartment in Brighton when I got my first text message from a friend telling me that there had just been an explosion in Boston. Immediately after, my brother called me from Vermont asking me if I was all right. The next fifteen minutes were spent immersed in multiple group text messages from all of my close friends and relatives, most of which I couldn’t respond to, since my phone wasn’t working properly. I had people texting me from both in Boston and also those living in Vermont, New Hampshire, and even California, making sure that all of us in Boston were OK. It wasn’t until a while after these initial conversations that it really started to sink in.
Holy shit. There was just a bombing in Boston. Two blocks away from where I work.
The office emails started to go out. Teams tracking down all of their teammates. Leadership and Security ensuring that all our people were safe and accounted for. Me talking to co-workers individually. “Are you in the office?” “Are you safe?” “Is everyone there OK?”
Two blocks away is just too close for comfort. Luckily, it proved to be all we needed, and fortunately no one had been in the danger zone of the explosions. Now, two days later, I still constantly find myself thinking about all the what-ifs? One of my close friends was two blocks away from the first explosion. What if she had stayed put for ten extra minutes? A coworker who was running the marathon was on the same stretch as both bombs. What if she had run two minutes faster? My roommate was at Fenway for a Red Sox game, with the plan to walk toward the finish line after. What if she had left the game early? A year ago on Marathon Monday, I took a break from the office, went out into the blazing heat of last year’s marathon, walked the two blocks to the finish line, and witnessed some of the runners crossing the final 26.2 mark. What if I hadn’t worked from home this year? What if, once again, I had been in Back Bay and had decided to go watch the Marathon at 2:30, as most of the runners were nearing the finish line?
On Sunday, the day before the marathon, a few friends and I walked all the way down Beacon Street in Brookline and Boylston Street in Boston. The last four miles of the Boston Marathon. The exact route on which Monday’s bombings took place. On Sunday, I stood at the corner of Exeter and Boylston Streets, on the block that these bombs were placed. What if I had walked this route on Monday instead?
Today was everyone’s first day back in the office since the horrific events of Monday. We started off the morning with an all-team meeting. 150 people gathered to listen to my bosses share their thankfulness for our camaraderie and our safety. They thanked everyone for our quick emergency responses. They encouraged us to all talk with each other if we need to, to show compassion, to take as much time as we needed to ease back into work. We spent the next few minutes looking at a montage of funny, happy pictures from work events and team travel. We were all smiling and laughing as my boss discussed where we’ve been over the years together, how close and friendly everyone is, and how we all spend more time together than with our own families and we really have a sense of all being family. I quickly went from laughing to tearing up as we had a moment of silence in honor of Monday’s victims and my boss once again expressed his gratefulness in everyone’s safety, saying that “I spent Monday trying to keep my eight-year-old away from the TV on the same day that another eight-year-old was killed.
I read an article today about things people forget to be grateful for. In addition to having food, water, the internet, growing up in a war-free country, and the eight other points listed in this article, after Monday’s events in my city I feel more fortunate than ever for everything else I take for granted. Having all four of my grandparents still alive. Growing up in a happy –yet crazy in a good way– family. Having a successful job that I love. Having the greatest friends, both those in Boston who I see or talk to almost every day and those farther away who I see far less frequently, yet it still feels like it was yesterday when we were last together. Having relatives nearby who I can easily see for holidays or “just because we need a girl’s night.”
I think the last time I had a true reality check like this was a year and a half ago, when I was hit by a car. It’s funny how bad experiences will do that to you. It’s made it clearer than ever that you need to be thankful for all the good things in your life, live each day to the fullest, tell people that you love them, have fun every day, and remember to smile. Because the harsh truth is, you never know if there will be a tomorrow.