Over and Over
When the explosions in Boston happened, I was in Lowell, walking by the Merrimack river, pushing Henrietta in her stroller. Sam was back at the house, writing. It was sunny today, a sweet sixty degrees, and the water was calm. Pairs of birds flew low on the water, then arched back up into the sky. I felt happy as I walked, calm and content and grateful.
Henrietta enjoyed the walk out but got sleepy on our return. The wind picked up, so I alternated between hurrying to the car and stopping to help her relax, and by the time we got back she was sleeping. I sat on a bench to let her sleep for a minute before putting her back in her carseat, and happened to check Facebook on my phone. My friends in Boston were posting notices they were safe. I didn't know what they meant. I typed "Boston" into Google, and one of the auto-fill options was "Boston explosions" and I followed the link and then I knew. I put the baby back in the car, turned the radio on, and cried on my way home. I sat in the driveway, letting her sleep longer, listening to the radio, listening and listening.
We used to live near the marathon route, and we've been to watch in previous years, though never near the finish. I used to work a few blocks from where it happened, used to walk down to Copley Square on nice days, used to catch the bus home every day from the corner across from the library. I kept imagining if we'd gone to see the runners, imagined holding Henrietta in my arms, imagined terrible things beyond that. Inside my house sitting on my couch, I listened to more news. When the baby giggled, it surprised me.
We have plenty of food at home, but somehow the news made me want to go somewhere, to sit across from Sam at dinner. We picked a new Mexican place and sat in colorful booths, sharing fajitas, talking, stuffing small tortillas for ourselves and handing the baby crackers. Behind Sam, up on the wall, I could see a TV playing the news. Over and over I watched a man stop running, then crumple in the middle of the street.
When we got home I fed the baby, rocking her, grateful to be holding her in the dark nursery with a nightlight and her white noise machine playing ocean waves. Sam came in at one point, whispered that one of the casualties was an eight-year-old, that ten people had lost limbs. He went back out to read more news and I kept rocking, waiting until I was sure she was sleeping. When she fussed, I found myself telling her, hoping it was true, "You're safe. I've got you. You're safe."