The most obvious losses, of course, are the deceased—eight-year-old Martin Richard, 29-year-old Krystal Campbell, 23-year-old Lu Lingzi, 26-year-old Sean Collier—and the limbs and bodies maimed forever by metal fragments, ball bearings and nails. Then there are the dented psyches. Mae Shoemaker, 58, a teacher and prominent field hockey coach from Stow, Mass., ran in her 24th straight Boston Marathon this year, finishing the race 141 seconds before the first bomb blew.
She ended up walking five miles out of downtown—along the Charles River, over the Mass Ave Bridge and through Cambridge, where her brother picked her up. She finds it hard to talk about without crying. Her walk took her a block from the Tsarnaevs' apartment on Norfolk Street in Cambridge; she wonders if they walked home that way too. Like so many, she can't get past the randomness. She still hears the explosions. "I haven't slept for a week because I wake up in the middle of the night and I just don't know why [this happened]," she says. "I wish I had an answer. It does haunt me."
It will haunt everyone. Because the marathon, like no other event in the city, is personal. This is hard for outsiders to understand, because so much is made of the Sox and Celts and Bruins and Patriots, not least by the natives. Boston seamlessly unites its rich, poor, black, white and everything-in-between residents under a crazy quilt—equal parts red, white, blue, gold, black, white and green—of loyalty. No precinct, not even New York City, is more obnoxious in its pride. No place knows how to make such a lunatic misplacement of priorities feel so perfectly right.
That kind of fandom can have its downside, but Marathon Monday is different. For 117 years it was the day the city had used to fall back in love with itself. Starting in Hopkinton, winding through those place names that burrow under the skin of every carpetbagging student who comes and goes—Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, Kenmore, Back Bay, Boylston—the race stitched together the region's granular, ultraprovincial communities into a pulsing and positive whole, e pluribus unum in the flesh. Everyone knows someone in or at the race.
"It's a celebration," says Toni Biggerstaff, 43, of Keller, Texas. She has run 13 marathons; this year was her second Boston. No other race can compare. "I found this as I was running: I'm tired, I'm shuffling, I'm tired ... then I would run over to the right and stick my hand out and people would just scream, 'Yahhhhh!' and they'd stick their hand out to you—and you'd run faster," she said. "They're cheering for you. If you have your name on the front of your shirt? Your name is going to be called over and over and over. 'Come on, Toni! You can do it!' "
Schools are closed because it's Patriots' Day, the commemoration of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and the Sox play Fenway at the ridiculous hour of 11 a.m. so that everyone can wander down through Kenmore Square in time to see some finishers cross the line. "It's our best day," said Richard Johnson, the curator of The Sports Museum in Boston. "A rite of spring. The daffodils and crocuses are up and people emerge from the cocoons of their homes and we're putting the screens on the doors. It's a sacred day for Boston, and there's no other day in any other city in the country quite like it."
Part of that died last week, though few want to admit it. On Wednesday night, with the bombers still at large, 17,565 people streamed in on the T and the turnpike to see the Bruins play the first game since, packing the Garden for its 149th straight sellout. Earlier that day longtime anthem singer Rene Rancourt, at home practicing in Natick, found his eyes tearing, voice breaking, whenever he tried to hit "... and the rockets' red glare." Such a thing had never happened in his 37-year career. "It was too much," he says. When team officials suggested he let the crowd sing this night, Rancourt couldn't have been more relieved.
Just past 7:36 p.m., he stepped onto the ice. Rancourt sang the first 2½ lines, lowered his microphone and gestured for the fans to take over. No one missed a beat. The song grew louder and more defiant, a human thunder, with each word. "I really needed that help," Rancourt says. "I was shocked they responded so quickly. It was almost as if I had fallen and somebody reached down to help me stand up again."
By Saturday, the day after the killing and capture in Watertown, the mood had cooled some. Ortiz had his say at Fenway Park, the victims and heroes were saluted, but the crowd-sung anthem sounded more weary, more relieved, than anything else. "Everybody was hurtin'," Ortiz said after. "It was a very emotional day here. It's painful. Today, I can see people just opening their chests and letting it go. We all know that it's going to take some time to heal up, but it's step-by-step. I think this is one of the steps."
Another one on Saturday was to go back. In pairs or small crowds, some fans shuffled out of Fenway and kept going past the bars on Lansdowne Street, past the ONE MILE TO GO sign stenciled in yellow on Commonwealth Avenue, past the tony restaurants on Newbury. It couldn't be like it was, like it has always been, with the seamless transition from one warm crowd to another. The finish line was still a crime scene, still off-limits.