I went to the Boston Public Library yesterday where I was meeting my editor, Melanie Kroupa, to accept the Boston Authors Club Young Reader Award. I took the train into North Station. As I traveled south from New Hampshire, fierce pain from a headache was building. By the time I travelled from North Station on the green line to my stop at Boylston Street, all I could think of was finding relief. Coming up the stairs from the T, my eyes keyed in on a sign – CVS. I got my pills, slowly walked across the street where I saw benches beside what looked like a flea market. Across Dartmouth Street was the block-wide, grand BPL. I sat, took the pills, drank cold water. Sitting absolutely still, I let the pain slowly shift and ease. I was aware I was not cold, after days of cold rain. I began to take in the space where I’d found this bench. A busy park, people crossing in every direction. Looking like summer. I turned and saw behind me dozens of pairs of tennis shoes tied on a metal stand. They weren’t new shoes. I looked beyond them. More shoes, bears, banners, caps, bouquets. This was the Marathan Memorial. This was Copley Square.
I had read about the controversy here. Boston was asking, What are we going to do with this makeshift memorial? I stood and walked through it, across the park. It was terribly intimate in objects and mementoes. It was multicultural as Boston is, with messages in many languages on banners and a large black board. Boston may not know what to do with it, but to me, suddenly finding myself among these personal artifacts of pain and loss and wishes for a city’s strength made it the most intimate memorial I have experienced.
I made my way across Dartmouth Street and up the stairs of the Boston Public Library, past the bronze statues representing Art & Science and to the good people of the Boston Authors Club and Melanie and the fine writers who had gathered there. I met writers and poets and editors and passionate readers. I met Lois Lowry who was honored for Life Time Achievement. I was among people charged with telling the stories of human pain and loss and hope. Cynthia Levinson who wrote We’ve Got a Job, Martha Collins who wrote White Papers, Junot Diaz who wrote This is How You Lose Her and many more wonderful writers. Thank you Boston Authors Club, Karen Day, Erin Dionne, Sarah Lamstein, Susan Meyer, Kim Triedman, Judith Cohen, Alan Lawson, Helen Marie Casey, Vera Lee for bringing us together and honoring us this day.