Disbelief > That’s the first emotion I experienced on Monday when I received a text from a co-worker telling me something had gone horribly wrong at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As I read the word “bomb,” my mind leaned toward denial. No, this is NOT another attack against innocent people. No, someone did NOT plan to bomb unsuspecting runners and spectators in the midst of their jubilation.
Recognition > I was on the train when I first heard about the Marathon bombings, so I had time to think. I vividly remembered a Patriots Day just a few years back when I finished covering a Red Sox game and decided to walk along the Marathon route from Fenway Park to Copley Square to watch runners cross the finish line. What a scene, unlike any other in my life. Wall to wall bodies, at least ten deep on the sidewalks. The closer I got to the end of the race, the harder it became to move. Once on Boylston Street, I was hemmed in on every side by thousands who had the same idea. I could no longer walk full stride; instead, I was inching along and pushing my way through the crowds to find a good vantage point. The scene would’ve been similar this week.
Adrenaline > Strangely, this is the next emotion that surges through my body. I can’t wait to get to work and do my part. That means gathering as much information as possible and sharing it with as many people as possible on CBS Sports Radio. This is what I do. It’s how I help – making sure people are informed and equipped with as many details as we can find. Of course, it also keeps me busy and focused, so I have less opportunity to feel the pain over another terror attack against our nation.
Shock > When I finally see video of the bombs going off within seconds and yards of each other and then hear the explosions captured on a camera phone, it’s worse than what I read. So loud with such sudden impact; so quickly the triumph at the finish line turns to fear, confusion, and chaos. And I know the video can only tell part of the story. Being THERE on Boylston Street to see, hear, and feel the power of those bombs was infinitely worse.
Familiarity > I’ve done this before. We’ve all done this before. It’s almost becoming routine. 9/11 changed the world we live in. Now part of me expects more terror attacks of greater frequency. Mixed with the disbelief, there’s a corner of my brain that’s not surprised. Terrorists are constantly planning ways to bring down the US. And our definition of “terror attack” now includes random shootings in public places. These emotions have become all too familiar. Oklahoma City, the Atlanta Olympics, Columbine, 9/11. More recently, Tucson with Gabrielle Giffords, the Aurora movie theatre shooting, Newtown, Boston. There have been others – some successful and some foiled. No matter how much security we add, how many arrests are made, or how many times the terrorists fail, they WILL keep trying. As one person tweeted me, you can destroy the ant hill, but the ants immediately start rebuilding and re-organizing. There will be others who open fire in public places. This is now the world we live in.
Anger > Inevitably, I am furious when we finally learn about the victims. An 8-year-old boy who loved to run, jump, climb, and cheer on his favorite Boston sports teams. A 29-year-old restaurant manager with a zest for life. A Chinese grad student. And there are others who survived but lost limbs or had nails and shrapnel imbedded in their bodies. For awhile, the anger drives me. I want to strike back at those responsible for this grief and pain. It may not be possible, but I want to do it anyway. Strike back with the full force of the United States to exact revenge…NOW!
Apprehension > I left work that night and caught the subway to Penn Station to wait the half hour for my train home. I couldn’t help but wonder if I was in the line of fire for the next attack. It dawned on me for the first time that Penn Station at midday would be a logical mark for terrorists. We know they’ve frequently targeted trains, subways, and buses. How do we stay vigilant without letting our guard down? I have no idea; but the threat feels more real than ever in New York City.
Pride > In the hours and days since the horror of the Marathon bombings, we’ve heard numerous stories of first responders and strangers coming to the aid of the wounded. Runners, spectators, medical workers, police officers, firemen, military personnel. So many rushed into the chaos and confusion with no thought for their own safety if another bomb were to go off. I’m proud of their response in the face of devastation, proud to live in a country full of heroes, proud of our law enforcement who are working tirelessly to find the bombers and bring justice.
Hope > It always happens this way. As I process the myriad of emotions and feel them to my core, the hope slowly rises to the top. As a nation, we WILL survive. We will not be bullied. We will not lose this fight. We will band together like we always do and press forward. We will support one another. And we will pray. That’s where my hope comes from. The morning after the bombing, a line from an old hymn kept running through my head: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” This is not the end. We are strong, and there will always be hope.