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April 20th, 2013

A Report by Alli Wessells, 14

The day after the vigil, I took my lunch from Scott Gymnasium and sat on Lyman Lawn, thinking about the past events. A robin danced around near the bottom of the hilly lawn and people walk past me to their cars in the nearby parking lot. The only sign that the vigil was here and happened: bow after bow of shoelaces. Some are knotted together, others tied in double knots, still stiffly keeping the shape of their bow against the ribbon.

When the Smith Community gathered together to tie these shoelaces in memory of the Boston Marathon, hugs were exchanged. It reminded me strongly of a Hebrew proverb: “The heart knows its own bitterness and no stranger can share in its joy.” Yet we all came together for brief moment to create a communal, heartwarming energy that many students will associate with Lyman Lawn long after the shoelaces fade from sight. Even more heartwarming is that students left the lawn, feeling comforted. At the vigil, the act of tying a knot was not just an act of remembrance but also (appropriately) an act of vigilance: These runner’s knots are a testimony to the signs alongside: We stand with Boston, we stand with all people and we stand against all acts of violence.

All week, my living room has been tuned to CNN. Friends spoke about their loved ones in greater Boston and their shock that something so horrifying could happen in an area that they connected with personal memories. “My grandmother lives on the corner of that intersection,” from one friend. “My mother used to walk me to Copley Square every day when I was little” from another. A third friend showed me a Facebook status from her high school friend who pinned one of the suspects in a wrestling championship two years ago.

Dean Jennifer Walters asked everyone present if they had people asking if they were okay, if their loved ones were okay. The sea of hands that rose, the warm patch of sunlight that briefly washed over our little hill, the quiet sniffles of tears, were all factors contributing to the intense emotional feeling. This energy would culminate in the display of different knots, all of them alike in being tied to the chain, but different in their execution.

I stood twice. The first time was to support my friends in singing a Jewish prayer of healing. I could see some students singing the words with us. Later, one thanked me for providing that moment for her personal reflections.

Many students stood to speak. Julia Edwards (’15) ran in the marathon and her story touched all who were in attendance.

The second time, I stood as a student active in supporting the campus during this time in grief. I held hands, just as everyone stood and held hands. Hugs followed hands, a spontaneous fountain of energy that many needed, for this particular form of contact reminding them that they weren’t alone in their heart’s bitterness, so to speak.

And so, hugs led to knots where some tied lace ends together or simply tied a knot on top of a knot.