Just a few weeks ago, I’d used a pressure cooker image to open my blog. My favorite television character, Gibbs (from NCIS) doesn’t believe in coincidences. And if I am to agree with him, and generally I do, then I have to wonder what made that choice of image so timely? I was reaching back in thought to the fifties and sixties, when my parents were still feeding a large family, and the five pound bag of potatoes was quickly emptied as the spuds were peeled, chopped, and added to the heavy steel pot of water. Never would I have thought such a pot would be used as a weapon, other than in the way of clunking an intruder over the head with it. Rather than an explosion, I wrote of potential dangers that pot held when it was being used properly, but inattentively. I wrote of the steam it would build, and the pressure it would contain. I wrote of the lead safety valve that would pop if too much pressure built up within. But I never imagined the intense pressure of a bomb exploding, releasing and flinging the heavy top, and allowing the shrapnel within that bomb to scatter among those nearby, causing horrific damage to human flesh, to human beings.
And so I chose my image carefully for this week’s entry, a day later than my normal posting date. “Boston Strong” is the phrase being used repeatedly: in voice, in print, and in images, on the media, by the citizens of Boston, by the mayor, the governor, and even the president. It is the image that MIT chose during the week to portray with a display of the American Flag in lights, hung on one of their buildings, and captured in many cameras by folks happy to see a positive image in that dark week.
Is it a coincidence that an innocent, young security officer hired to protect the campus of MIT would, within days of this display, be brutally murdered by the same killers who exploded the pressure cookers in the midst of happy spectators of the Boston Marathon’s Finish Line? Was it their intent to assassinate an employee of that proud university? Or was it simply a coincidence that he would cross their paths before another innocent victim would. He was out-manned and out-gunned, and he died for his job, and we can say for his university, and perhaps for his city, and his country.
I considered removing the image of the pressure cooker from my March 26th entry, realizing that while I was searching the free images of the internet for that icon, the brothers may have been designing the bombs that they would place within these once respectable pots. But I left it there on my blog for that week. To remove it could be seen as an act of cowardice … an act of weakness, of giving in to the intimidation desired by these brothers. I would not be a display of “Boston Strong.”
The president said they chose the wrong city to try to intimidate. My father’s beloved City of Boston gained a lot of accolades from all of the agencies that came in to help after the bombings. But in my mind, the president might have said that about whichever city was attacked. How could he not? He stressed that he and others who came here as students felt a part of Boston in their hearts … a belonging to the city that welcomed them then, and needed them now. Is it a coincidence that he could claim a part of Boston because he is among those who received education in my father’s city?
While the city of Boston and the adjacent suburbs were locked down … while the citizens of this state were told in no uncertain terms to stay inside their homes … to “shelter within” the safety of buildings built many decades ago … Rick and I had a scheduled breakfast with retired friends in a nearby town. It was not a town within the locked-down area, but it was halfway between home and Boston. I felt some reluctance to keep the appointed date. I hesitated for two different reasons … I felt badly for those under lock down who could not leave their home to make appointments, social or otherwise. And I was leery of the proximity to the highway of the place we would join our friends, for the highway led straight in to (and thus out of) Boston and adjacent areas.
Rick, always the calming voice when I worry, reminded me that we could not give in to a terrorist’s intimidation. And with that encouragement, that “Boston Strong” motto kicked in, and we did go to breakfast. Our friends did as well, and we had a lovely, friendly American breakfast-out.
No one yet knew where the remaining brother was hiding. No one could say he was still in the area. And if he were not, no one could say whether he’d driven south, west, or north of Boston. We knew he couldn’t have gone east of the city, for that would have required a boat. I knew that much. I thought that much.
Is it, then, a coincidence that I had that hesitation … that those thoughts crossed my mind unspoken that morning… and later that evening he was found in a boat – dry-docked for the winter, but a boat none the less. Oh, there were celebratory jokes on social media later … “Wife to husband: I told you that boat would be nothing but trouble!” and a poster exclaiming “The Worst Get-Away Vehicle Evah!”
The people in the locked-down areas were celebrating in the streets, and cheering for the hundreds of police officers as they pulled away after the arrest. We watched the events unfold until well after midnight. We watched it again the next day. We could be watching it re-run even today if we were to choose that, but we haven’t.
I often have a sense of deja-vu. I have often had dreams of circumstances that later played out in real life. Most often the characters are slightly different when the events occur, but there is always a connection to the person in life and the person in my dream. I don’t share many of those instances, and when I do, it is only with Rick, for he will not judge me for my dreams, nor for my instincts. I don’t make predictions based on my dreams. But I watch, and I do see them play out now and then. Some might call it a sixth sense. Others might say that it’s all in my imagination. And the logical ones among us would tell me with compassion that it’s just coincidental.
But Gibbs would say, “There are no coincidences in life.”