I know that the two don't even compare, I really do. Cerebrally I can distinguish thousands of people being lost and injured in a terrorist attack against our whole country from (likely) structural collapse of the busiest bridge in my city. I know the difference between the meanings of the two events, between the scale of the two events, between the outcome of the two events. But my heart aches the same way today as it did nearly six years ago.
Ironically, I was on a workout when I found out about both tragedies. I was a mile from home in 2001, just wrapping up a nine miler before class - training for my second marathon. A woman outside a coffee shop told me to go home and turn on my TV. Last night my brother Matt and I were on a great bike ride when we passed an electronic billboard that stated that the I-35W bridge had collapsed into the river during rush hour. When we got home, we found 8 missed calls on his cell phone - worried family and friends. Every channel on TV had the same story. Coverage of the rescue efforts, speculation on the cause, descriptions of the injuries, and the death toll flooded our living room. I watched till I decided I shouldn't anymore and went to bed. We woke up this morning to Matt Lauer reporting from our city. Dozens of reporters were presenting the news outside the hospital where I work. It all seemed so surreal. When I worked up my patients, I actually only had a few from last night's horrific accident. Their injuries are no different than the injuries I see every day, but they somehow seem different. I can't explain it.
The pictures and stories and buzzing rumors are everywhere. I try separate myself from them like I do with all of the rest of the news that spews out of my TV and radio. This time, though, I can't. It's in my backyard. I was just running under that bridge a week ago on my long run. I biked by it a few days ago. The news won't stop telling me how many bodies are estimated to be at the bottom of the river. Those people are members of my city, my community.
It's not just the now that has me sad and anxious. An estimated 100,000-200,000 cars cross that bridge each day. Where will all of those cars go? I'm starting to worry whether I will still be able to get to work ok. The new detour will take cars a mile from my home, a route that is already chronically clogged, and the rebuilding will take years. If you don't live in or near a town built along a large body of water, it's hard to imagine just how vital these bridges are to our entire infrastructure as a community.
So as the stories of death and survival and searching and rebuilding and friends and family and community continue to surface, I've decided that it's ok to be sad today. Tonight, though, I'm shutting off my TV and going for a run.
Riding Strong: Another Bike PR!
1 day ago