Thankfulness, not without grief.
The bright morning, not without warning.
—Marc Blitzstein, "The Open Air"
It is a lovely Saturday in Central Europe (from where I write), but for the last week, my thoughts have been turned back to the town I called home for so many years, and the town I still use as the lodestone, the city against which all others must be judged.
Through the heroic efforts of law enforcement officials throughout the Boston area, the manhunt for the perpetrators of Monday's attacks, as well as the violence of Thursday night, has finally ended. It is amazing to see so many of the citizens of Boston participating and obeying the requests to stay indoors, and not to get in the way of the search. This undoubtedly saved lives and brought the search to an earlier conclusion.
I should be thankful that this situation is over, and yet, the only emotion that really stuck yesterday was anger. But this wasn't the "stuck on the Green Line" anger that dissipates once the train gets moving again; this was the fire-and-brimstone, spider hanging over the flames of perdition indignation of Jonathan Edwards's "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" variety.
Mixed in with the relief at knowing that none of my friends who live in the Boston area were injured is the outrage that they even had to face this situation at all. The gratefulness to the police who this year have been pushed to their limits time and time again is measured with absolute disbelief that we could live in a society where such chaos is even possible. The admiration for the citizens of the greater Boston area and all they endured this week is set against the sheer cost of yesterday.
How many families will now have to cope with a budget made even more precarious by the loss of a day's wages? How many businesses, already going through tough times, will have to make even more tough decisions in the weeks and months to come? How many people will remember not the heroic response of the city, but carry with them only the gruesome images of Monday's carnage?
While the image of the child high-fiving a cop in body armor is adorable on one level, it raises the discomforting question: why should a baby be anywhere nearby at all? And, even worse, how many children will now be confronted with the realities of the adult world far before there time?
It's this last point that really got to me yesterday when I heard the news of the manhunt, and that it led to the cancellation of both the Red Sox and Bruins games. I am not, of course, advocating that the Red Sox should have played the Royals last night; that would have been the height of folly and the definition of insanity. However, I can't help but wonder how many young children were deprived of their first (or worse still, perhaps even their only) chance to visit Fenway Park yesterday. Yesterday would have been a wonderful night for baseball, at least as far as April in Boston is concerned. It would have been a wonderful evening to take in a game—particularly after the horrific week that already was.
How did parents tell their children that they couldn't visit Fenway? That they couldn't see Big Papi make his debut this year? That they couldn't root for a laser show from Dustin Pedroia, or maybe even see Steven Wright throw his first knuckler in Fenway? That they can't see Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer and think that maybe, just somehow, someday, that could be them? Did they make up some convenient story, or did they tell their children the truth? In my mind, I can't even begin to think which is worse: having to lie to someone so young, or to be honest and tell them that the world is far scarier than they have any need to think about at that age. Either scenario is just too depressing for me to contemplate.
So what can be done? Well, we can't undo the past, but perhaps Yawkey Way can help to correct some of the injustice done yesterday. It certainly shouldn't be too difficult for the Red Sox to honor the tickets for last night's game not only tomorrow, when the makeup game is scheduled, but at any point in the season should schedule conflict.
But that's just a start. The best thing that the Red Sox can do for Boston this year is to be there for the city, and to be the best team that they can be—the one that we've already started to see. For a few hours per day, they can be an oasis, a way to put those horrific images aside. Let Fenway be, in the words of Thomas Boswell, what it was, what it is, and what it always shall be, "an alternate and better universe, disguised as a ballpark."