Boston: Before and After

Posted by on April 19, 2013 in National News | 3 comments

I’ve been spend­ing some time off-line lately, friends. Ask­ing my house­mate to dis­con­nect the inter­nets before she goes to work, telling myself I don’t know how to plug it back in. Appar­ently I need trick­ery like that to write a book.

Mon­day was one of those off-line days. I spent the morn­ing down in my writ­ing lair, try­ing to fig­ure out just how to explain the mechan­ics of salmon trolling to non-fishing read­ers with­out bor­ing them (and me) to tears. As soon as I paused for lunch, my phone rang.

Joel didn’t bother with a greet­ing. “Are Charles and Cami and Bill okay?”

I didn’t know why they wouldn’t be. All run­ners, our friends had long been antic­i­pat­ing this big day.

There were explo­sions at the Boston Marathon. They don’t know how many peo­ple are hurt.”

Oh no…

Long­time Hooked read­ers know about my friend Cami Ost­man — this blog began thanks to her encour­age­ment. Though she’s com­pleted a marathon on every con­ti­nent, Cami wasn’t run­ning in Boston. She was there to cheer for her hus­band Bill, a four-time participant.

Charles Claassen is another friend of sev­eral con­nec­tions. Years before we met Charles, we heard about the great chef prepar­ing our salmon at the North Cas­cades Insti­tute. Sev­eral years ago, he left NCI to open the Book­Fare Café, housed in Vil­lage Books. Our good for­tune: with Book­Fare, Charles has cre­ated one of Bellingham’s beloved “third places.”

As soon as Joel hung up, I texted Cami. “WTF? You guys okay? Send­ing love…”

Moments later, my phone buzzed. “We are ok.”

Cami has since writ­ten about their expe­ri­ence, posted here on her blog. It’s an impor­tant read, and makes me newly grate­ful for my friend — not only that she was okay, but that she’s the per­son she is, the one who will make the con­clu­sion that I most need to hear. You might need to hear it, too.

I haven’t got­ten much writ­ing done in the past few days, but am still try­ing to steer mostly clear of the inter­nets. The bar­rage of fren­zied head­lines, wild, type-before-you-think spec­u­la­tion, and vicious com­men­tary doesn’t help me grieve those suf­fer­ing or be the per­son I want to be. I want to choose love over hate, com­pas­sion over fear. Before and after, I choose to believe in the good­ness of peo­ple. It’s never trum­peted as loudly as heart­break and hor­rors, but we can amplify human kind­ness through evi­dence like this Sitka man’s self­less­ness, and these TED talks, and this woman’s res­o­lu­tion. We can choose what we take in, and what our take­away will be.

Of course these choices are rooted in the priv­i­lege of dis­tance. Would I still find com­fort in pretty thoughts  if peo­ple dear to me had been among the maimed and trau­ma­tized? If my expo­sure wasn’t so sim­ple as not click­ing on a par­tic­u­lar link, and the view out my Pacific North­west win­dow wasn’t so serene, where two squir­rels squab­bling over a peanut was the most vio­lence I’d seen today?

I can’t say.

Like any of us, all I can do is turn to the things that give me com­fort. A long snug­gle with sweet­heart and cat. Med­i­c­i­nal music. Choos­ing which steps will carry me for­ward, while hold­ing oth­ers in my heart.

You’re included among those thoughts, friends. Be care-full, be well.

Bear, Candle, Cushion; for Boston




  1. Thanks so much for tag­ging Cam’s Boston report. You’re right, it is an impor­tant read.
    Cheers, ic

  2. Dear Tele,

    I love you. This is a beau­ti­ful post with excel­lent links! Like you, I refuse to allow tragedies like this to recolor my basic belief in the good­ness of most peo­ple. If we can respond in some way with love, we have a chance to be truly human. My heart goes out to every­one in Boston and those run­ners and sup­port­ers from all over the world as well as the peo­ple in West, Texas. There is always some­where, some peo­ple who need our sup­port. I am con­tin­u­ously awed by the peo­ple who run into dan­ger to help. Thank you for your thought­ful post.

    Love, Aunt Lynn

  3. Just read Cami’s post. Thanks for link­ing. Onward.

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