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Out of the Woods / Boston bombings brought us all together

Published 7:01 am, Saturday, April 27, 2013
  • The boat where the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was found is inspected by the FBI in Watertown, Mass., April 22, 2013.  (David L. Ryan/Boston Globe) - Photo: DAVID L. RYAN, New York Times / BOSTON GLOBE
    The boat where the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was found is inspected by the FBI in Watertown, Mass., April 22, 2013. (David L. Ryan/Boston Globe) - Photo: DAVID L. RYAN, New York Times

 

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The Boston Marathon disaster, arguably the most traumatic terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11, seemed a long way from Westport.

But was it really?

When the two bombs went off at the end of the marathon a week ago Monday, I happened to be watching the race on television. It affected any Westporter who ran in the marathon or who had a friend or relative involved, or anyone here who knew anyone in Greater Boston. For them, the bombings and their aftermath meant clear and present danger.

Along with others, I felt frozen in time as the agonizing, long week went by moment by moment, day by day, right up to Friday, when flawless law-

enforcement teamwork by local, state and federal investigators resulted in the killing of one suspect and the capture of the second, bloodied and pathetic.

My first thought after the initial explosion Monday was of my niece, a college professor, who lives in Cambridge. Her mother -- my sister -- who was visiting someone in Boston, called me to let us know that she was fine and that my niece was in Seattle attending a conference and returning home Wednesday.

As the days passed, my niece remained on my mind, since the two terrorists, identified by the FBI as brothers, had escaped and were presumably running around Greater Boston somewhere.

When the older brother was killed in a gun battle with police in neighboring Watertown and the younger one escaped in a hail of gunfire, another pang of anxiety kicked in.

I called my sister and learned that my niece had arrived home safely from Seattle and was following official instructions to remain inside her apartment with her door bolted.

By this time, having learned the exact address where the firefight with the cops took place in Watertown, I grew more concerned. The street name sounded familiar.

That was confirmed by my daughter, who reminded me via email from California that when she was teaching in Boston 15 years ago, she had lived across the street from the house where the second suspect was cornered in a boat in the backyard.

She reminded me that she had a friend who was still living in the house where she had lived.

The entire city of Boston had been locked down last Friday in an unprecedented effort to isolate the second terrorist. After authorities lifted the lockdown, my sister called to tell me her daughter was going outside to get some dinner. With the second suspect still at large, I remained concerned.

Shortly after that, I got a call from dear friends in Bristol, R.I., whose son, they told us, had attended the Boston Red Sox game that morning (the early game was over in time to watch the race finish), but that he was all right. They knew we might be worried about him because he has season tickets and attends quite often.

When authorities announced the second suspect had been apprehended in Watertown, I breathed an enormous sigh of relief -- along with millions of other Americans and, no doubt, millions of other people the world over.

Thus, in the span of five anxiety-ridden days, this horrific episode in Boston had touched a number of people in my family circle, in Boston, Seattle, Rhode Island and California.

My guess is that my experience was minor compared to many other Westporters and thousands of other people in this country, as well as families of runners from scores of countries around the world.

It all proved that old adage about how we are all connected in one way or another -- as illustrated so skillfully in the 1990 Broadway play, "Six Degrees of Separation," which explored the existential premise that everyone is connected to everyone else in the world by a chain of no more than six acquaintances -- thus, "six degrees of separation."

Woody Klein is a Westport writer. His "Out of the Woods" appears every other Wednesday. He can be reached at woodyklein12@gmail.com.