"She has to have it wrong," I think as my assistant pulls me out of a meeting and tells me that there has been a bombing at the Boston Marathon. A bombing? Certainly there has to be another explanation. I go straight to the Internet. "Is Mike safe?" is all I can think. I stare for a long moment at the icon of a runner that shows my colleague at the finish line. I have been tracking his progress throughout the day. I feel sick. I feel scared. I snap out of it and remember that there are things that need to be done.
As chief human resources and citizenship officer for a large, global financial institution, this wasn't the first time that I was faced with needing to verify that our employees were safe. Thankfully our business continuity response plan worked well and we were able to verify that, first and foremost, all of our employees were safe -- 400 volunteers and runners.
As a business, we need to do our jobs every day. The financial markets may react to events, but they remain open and we have a duty to operate uninterrupted. Dozens of us met throughout last week to methodically ensure that we continue to do our job. We were scared. We felt sick. But everyone was safe and we did what we needed to do -- together we got it done.
Mike and I met on Monday morning -- one week after the marathon. He said he cried on Tuesday when it all sunk in. A week later, I realize that traumas have no finish lines. Together and alone, each of us grapples with grief. Each of us finds a way to push on when nothing seems normal. For me and for many of my colleagues, we've been able to do this by thinking about the struggles that will be endured by hundreds of runners, spectators and first responders whose lives have been altered in ways that no one could ever imagine. This puts things in perspective. But this perspective can either lead to despair or a feeling of strength. Bostonians chose strength.
- We'll push on despite the pain and will pull closer for support;
- We'll be patient and understand that many will feel a whirlwind of intense and unpredictable emotions as they work through their fears and grief;
- We'll continue to help those impacted with a donation to the One Fund Boston;
- We'll volunteer where needed and offer the assistance when asked;
- Many will return to the start line next year and...
- We will all move forward.
We are standing together, shaken but resolute, and I for one feel buoyed by an even stronger sense of community.
Starting now we will return to Boylston Street. We'll push harder, cheer louder and remain Boston Strong.
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