There are moments in life when events feel too raw, when it all seems that it will change for the worst.
Yesterday was one of those moments.
I wasn’t even in my adopted hometown, my Boston, a city that has been my life since 1986, but when I got a call that explosions had occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I froze.
Where was my sister, and could I get a call through to her?
Not even thinking, I pressed her name on my phone and within seconds, she told me, “I’m OK. They evacuated us. I heard the whole thing. I’m OK… I’m OK.”
My sister was only a block away from the noise and chaos at Boylston Street. Away from the blood and the fear. From the images of people who had started the day hoping that they could just finish a marathon, but suddenly had no legs. Away from the child who died. Away from those who were injured.
I was hopeless, wanting to hug my sister and tell her that it will all be fine. Yet I was still miles away. So far away. Then the images and the videos started jumping on social media and television, telling us of the few seconds that forever changed Boston. It was an endless cycle. This was another example of evil, an evil we could not control.
I got angry. I was so angry that I couldn’t even breathe.
This happened in a place in the city where I had been hundreds of times. Ever since I could remember, the Boston Marathon had always represented the beginning of spring in the city. It was the special holiday, an event that was ours and ours alone. This was always the day when Boston became the true hub of the world. No one would deny us that feeling.
Until April 15, 2013.
I seriously doubt that I ever will want to go and see another Boston Marathon. I can’t shake the feeling of hearing my daughter asking me if all the bombs are gone. Every one of them. Or frantically seeing if the rest of my family was OK, even though I was hundreds of miles away.
But this is Boston, and in Boston, you always fight back. After shedding my tears for my city, I took a pause and remembered its history. Boston has been this country’s Original Rebel City since this country was just a baby. Two bombs won’t stop it. We have seen worse, and we have survived.
However, yesterday’s events still slammed me. What if my family had decided to go to the end of the finish line during the marathon? What should have been another part of the annual celebration of a true city tradition, became the next news cycle. Now every news outlet in the world is talking about Boston, and overlooking the fact that Boston is a fighter. You want to knock us down? Bring your bombs and try it. We won’t give up. Ever.
We owe it to those who died yesterday, those who just wanted to race or to see people run in a race. Boston will never waver, because it is a city of survivors who think for others first instead of themselves.
Yesterday on Boylston Street, Boston changed forever, not because it wanted to, because it had to. Yet Boston will rise above it. That is what makes a great American city, a city that will never stop fighting, no matter what comes its way.
Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77 ) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. In the past 12 months, Julito represented the Rebeldes on Face the Nation, NPR, Univision, Forbes, and The New York Times.