At 2:50pm today, an explosion occurred at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.  A second explosion followed, and more than an hour later a third explosion took place at the John F. Kennedy Library.  These explosions were, as far as anyone knows at this point, caused by bombs placed by an unknown source.  I won’t go into detail about the sickening, senseless attack that took place today.  You could go to a reputable news site for the full details, which as I type are still unfolding.  I won’t go on an opinionated tirade about terrorism or the evils of humanity or whatever, either.  I’m just here to share my story and how I’m dealing with it.  Hopefully nothing like this happens close to any of your homes while you’re here in Schenectady, but chances are a major event might occur while you’re away from home.  A death in the family, a natural disaster, a car crash, an illness.

I live in Framingham, Massachusetts, but for the sake of making things easier for everyone else I just say I’m from Boston.  Framingham’s right smack-dab in the middle of Boston and Worcester, about a half-hour outside of both.  The Boston Marathon runs through Framingham, and my family was present near the seventh mile to cheer on runners.

During one of my classes today, around 4:15pm, I received a call from home.  My phone was on silent, me being the good student I am (all through my 1:50pm anthropology class I was getting live updates on the Red Sox-Rays game, but don’t tell anybody), but when I got out of class at 4:45 I noticed my mom had left me a message.  Right off the bat, I knew something had happened.  She told me in her message that she and the rest of my family were alright and safe at home, but that my dad, a Framingham firefighter, had been called into work.  They were keeping Framingham firefighters in Framingham in case anything should happen, but two Framingham ambulances had been sent into Boston.  I think I was one of the last people who heard what had happened in Boston, but I was glad to hear that my family was safe.

When something happens close to home while you’re not there, a natural reaction is to want to be with your family.  This was my reaction two months ago when I received a phone call informing me that my grandfather had passed away, and again today I felt that urge.  Of course, the Boston Marathon bombing is no reason for me to hurry home, especially since I live three hours away and no one I know was injured, but I had a primal reaction to want to be there and to help in any way I could.  Because of modern media, you can communicate with your families with the click of a button.  Call your families, keep up with them on Facebook, text them, email them, Skype with them.  My advice is to do this regularly; even though you’re away from home, never drop out of the loop.  This was especially important to me when my grandfather passed away.  I had conversations with my cousins, some of whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to for a couple years.  Keeping in touch with family may be difficult at college, but it’s incredibly rewarding.

My other piece of advice is to be with those around you.  I walked into my room after talking with my mom on the phone, and the first thing my roommate asked me was if I was alright and if my family was alright.  The room across the hall from us has a television, and we joined four other people in that room to watch CBS News coverage.  The televisions are still on all down the hall, and doors are open.  You can always talk with the people around you about what’s going on, and the campus offers professional help if you need someone to talk to in depth if you’ve been deeply affected.

In an event like this, you’re never alone.  The Union community comes together, just as we do as Americans.  Also, the Sox won.