Nothing is Stronger than Love

Post by Susan Schirl Smith for the Kind Kindred series.

Nothing is Stronger than Love

“Mom, are you watching the news?” the text read. My college student daughter had spent a bright, beautiful spring day in her beloved city, watching her very first Boston Marathon. We had spent the early part of the day exchanging messages as she watched the sport she had come to love as much as I, as I viewed the event on television 300 miles away. I had pondered going back to my hometown for the race, to see it with her through new eyes. But it was her time, to experience the excitement and fun in her newly adult world.

I was on the house phone with my sister in Massachusetts as I received the text. Her son ran out of his room, yelling, “Where’s Lauren?” concurrently with my cell phone ringing a call from her. Blessedly, she had watched the marathon from mile 19, but was heading back to her college just blocks from the scene of chaos. We lost cell phone contact for a time, some of the longest moments of my life, and I have lived through much in my days. My last words to her, before we lost contact for a time, “Stay away from trashcans”.

Stay away from trashcans? I felt at that moment as I had on 9/11. The confusion, the un-knowing of what was happening was terrifying. The world, literally, had exploded. Boston was home. I lived there for most of my early life. I worked and trained at those hospitals that were suddenly in the news. My summer job was at the Boston Public Library, steps from the marathon finish. I married in that city; my daughter was christened there. That city is the heart and soul of who I am. And years earlier, I stood at that exact spot where the bomb went off to watch my own first marathon, dreaming of a time when maybe I could run it.

The day after the marathon, garbed in whatever Boston sports t-shirt I could find, I went to escape at my health club. Stretching, breathing on the mats, I overheard a conversation. The specifics of the conversation involved racist comments about this or that ethnic group, I will spare you the specific details, but let me say that the tone was filled with hatred. Not for whoever had done this, because at that point, no one knew. Hatred for whatever racial group this particular woman thought was preventing HER husband and HER children from realizing their dreams. Words that were echoed by the woman she was speaking with who expressed how she had, well, lied on a college applications for her daughter, so she could get whatever SHE thought she was entitled to.

I teach meditation, and holistic energy therapies. Yet this day, I had all I could do to not yell at them. (Even Reiki masters are human, I fear.) “Don’t you get it?” I thought. This is exactly what caused this to begin with, someone hating someone else for whatever perceived reason. And now people are dead, and hurt. Because of hate and fear.

It was a frightening week, all of us trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in a world that had once again gone mad. We had planned to drive up on Friday to begin my daughter’s move out of her freshman dorm, never expecting that we would see billboards along the way with the face of a young man, with the face of a monster. Signs everywhere saying that the city was on lockdown. Tears flowed as I drove with the thought of family and friends barricaded in their homes with a murderous monster on the loose. But they found him. Cowering like the coward that he was, hiding in a boat going nowhere. The brave ones, the Boston Strong, never gave up on the search to bring justice, and the birth of healing.

The stories of compassion and empathy, of courage and heroism are boundless. For as much as Boston is a big city, it is also a very small town. Nearly everyone knows someone who was there, who was affected by this. In the act that desecrated a city, a resilience that is Boston was reborn. The young man who lost both legs, bringing a birthday gift to a young woman injured in the blast. The memorial set up at the site, with messages from around the world. The hush as we bowed our heads there, in remembrance and love for all, the sign a reflection of the words of the youngest victim, “No more hurting people. Peace.” I thanked the police officers as I passed the tape that still blocked off the streets. The Boston Strong phrase that became a mantra, a chant to carry us to a place of healing. The humanity, and the love were exquisitely stronger than hate.

It has been little more than 3 months since it happened. Healing has only just begun. Yet, in the wisdom of the publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, they have chosen to put the “alleged Bomber” on the cover. For those of us old enough to remember, being on the cover of this music magazine was an honor for those in that industry. If one did not know better, one would believe the image on that cover was a young rock star. He is not. The cover is the glorification of the hatred expressed by those women on the stretching mat that day. It is the embrace of fear, the fear that permeated a city and a country for a stretch of time that week, and times before. The image celebrates the divisions between us, the chasm that swallows us up in intolerance and sadness and evil. There may be journalistic integrity in the telling of his story, perhaps, for all of us to understand how hatred can take people to the darkest of places. Rather than celebrating that hatred, perhaps we should honor those who rose above it, and became the love that we all can be.

On one of those first days that the stretch of road where both joy and heartbreak were one beautiful April day, my daughter travelled to a store to buy me yet another Boston t-shirt. Boston, it says on the front. And on the back? “Nothing is stronger than love.”

Because nothing, nothing is stronger than love.

Susan Schirl Smith, MSN is a creative dreamer, holistic energy practitioner and owner of Avalon Healing Arts. Her soul’s purpose is to help others on their journey to wellness of mind, body and spirit through creative expression, laughter, and love.


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