I am an American not living in the United States. I am going through the process to become a permanent resident of The Netherlands, but I will always be an American citizen. Not only am I proud of being an American, but I am fiercely proud of my state—Massachusetts. Since the horrible events at the Boston Marathon, I have been glued to the news and have been on an emotional roller coaster—just like so many others. I would just like to share a few thoughts on this past week.

Patriot’s Day (always the third Monday in April) is a state holiday and the day of the Boston Marathon. It is a day that I got off from work and it usually meant that I had the television on so that I could see the highlights of this annual event. But honestly, I did not find marathon running that exciting. So I usually read a book through most of the race. I did watch the end of the race, when the runners came through the finish line. Just to see all these amazing runners and the fans who have stood for hours to cheer on friends, family members and strangers is lots of fun. So to have this special day shockingly altered from what we know, is mind boggling.

The videos and photographs are very hard to look at and understand, and yet I could not stop looking. To see familiar streets and landmarks of Boston so bloodied and full of panic is simply very hard to take in. As soon as I heard this terrible news, I got online to check on my friends. Through email and Facebook, I was able to find out that everyone was safe. Some friends were at the race, but not in danger. But people needed to share and express their feelings and how frightened they were, and it was so good for me to hear from them. I needed to know their stories and to know they were safe.

Boston is famous for many things, but it is well known for being a sports town. The rivalry between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees is well known. I have a son who is now a Red Sox fan, even though he is Dutch and did not grow up in the culture of baseball (honkball). Thanks to me, he is not a fan of the Yankees. He hears the word Yankees and makes a noise. That is what a rivalry is all about and we smile and laugh about it. When I saw the video of fans in Yankee Stadium singing “Sweet Caroline” in support of Boston, I kind of lost it. It was a very emotional moment, as we know how unique that was in the world of baseball. But then, this was not about baseball, was it?

I was able to watch the memorial service live and was so grateful that I could feel a part of it. In my heart, I am still from Massachusetts. To see my governor, Deval Patrick, speak from his heart about this horrible week, was what I needed. And then to hear the perfect speech from my president, Barack Obama, was exactly what I wanted. It was a clarifying moment for me, because I did not feel there was an ocean between us.

On Friday, while the search for the suspect was holding the world’s attention, I was attached to my laptop. I knew I had to go on a day trip, and I had to leave the news behind. We were going to drive two hours to visit Uncle John in the hospital. I have only known this man for a little over two years and yet I feel like he has been family for many years. We were going to the “outback of Holland”, this is the affectionate term for going way out in the boonies. Indeed, it feels like a really long drive as there is not much to see. Lots of working farms, sheep, flat lands and only ONE working windmill dot this area. But it was good to see Uncle John and give him some cheer. He asked me, in his broken English, about Boston and I reassured him that none of my friends were hurt. He has three roommates and one of them caught my attention. The man was 91 years old and his wife of 66 years, who was also 91, was sitting by his bedside. He was having trouble with his speech and she leaned in and never took her eyes off his face. At one point, she left him alone and I stole glances at him. He looked out the window and he cried. He dried his eyes and sighed. And then he cried again. His wife came back and she sat again and looked at him…and he struggled to speak and then he cried loudly. She took his hand and just kept looking at him. It was a moment of purity and simplicity. This was knowing the person in your life and just holding on. On the drive home, through very dark and stormy skies, I thought of this couple and this whole painful week. Ultimately, we have to remember what is important and that is who we love and what we love. It comes down to our rituals, our points of pride and the people in our lives.
A wise little boy said “no more hurting people.” Let the hurting stop and let the loving begin…that is my wish.

P.S. For those regular readers, you know that I use a movie title for each blog post. Just my way of incorporating my love of films….When I knew I was going to write about this subject, I first thought of Marathon Man. But then I realized Love Story was better, as it represents what I was feeling. Ironically, the book and film take place in Boston and if you watched it right now, you could have a very campy party and have lots of fun making fun.

Recommended viewing: films that take place in Boston—The Departed, Fever Pitch, Gone baby gone, Good Will Hunting, Legally Blonde, Mystic River, Next stop, Wonderland, The Social Network and Ted. There is a long list of films that were either filmed in Boston or take place in Boston, please check them out. It is a fabulous city for many reasons.

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  • mainelyma  On April 21, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Check out Saturday’s Red Sox game. They had a photo montage with pics from the week with Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley playing in the background. Then during the 8th inning Neil Diamond came out to sing Sweet Caroline. They said he called the RS and asked of he could come.

  • Jean Langley  On April 21, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    The events of the past week were indeed shocking here in Massachusetts. It is difficult to understand how these two brothers could think that their violent actions made any kind of sense. If they want to change something in the world, harming innocent people is not the way to do it. Hate is not a solution. So your “Love Story” choice is apt.
    The saving grace for the whole tragedy, as has been pointed out by many, is how many people stepped up to the plate to help others, and the way the police and citizens came together to prevent any more harm from being done.

  • Terri D'Orsaneo  On April 22, 2013 at 12:57 am

    It has been horrific. I’m sure it was hard for you to watch, so far away. Glad your friends are all okay. Thanks for your perspective.

  • Carol  On April 22, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    This past week has been very emotional. I’ve never been to Boston, would love to see it, but when the news came out of the bombing I was right there via TV of course….. feeling so bad for everyone involved. They were no longer strangers in my heart… they were a part of me and my country.
    I love reading about your life in the Netherlands. Your trip to the hospital was interesting and sad too. I hope your Uncle John will be ok.
    You take care.

  • Melissa  On May 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    How did I miss that you’re from MA? I’m also in MA (grew up here, left, and returned) with a Dutchman for a husband. We are hoping to move to the NL sometime in 2014. Perhaps our paths will cross one day.

    PS we are Boston strong.

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