I graduated from business school four months after my mother died. Shortly before graduation weekend, an out-of-town friend called me and said that she wanted to come to my graduation. She insisted that I not feel pressured to include her in any pre-planned activities; she just wanted to be there, watch me graduate, and give me a hug afterward. She never directly said that she wanted to come because of my mother’s death or because she wanted to support me during a weekend punctuated by proud parents and family revelry. But her message was loud and clear.
There were other friends, and even people who I didn’t know very well, who did selfless favors, drove hours out of their way, and made sacrifices, never expecting a favor or even a thank you in return. Those people were my heroes. And this inherent goodness in the people who surrounded me made me feel extraordinary lucky during a time when I otherwise would have felt hopelessly desolate.
In the wake of the terrible tragedy in Boston, I have been reminded of my heroes all week. When I read about the Cowboy Hat Hero or the marathoners who crossed the finish line and kept running to the closest hospital to donate blood, my heart grows just a little larger. Because the truth is, no matter what disaster befalls us, whether it is a terminal illness or cowardly act of terror, the goodness in people will always beat the darkness in one. More lives were saved on Monday than were lost because of these heroes. And when you think the darkest time in your life will leave an enduring, deep scar that will never heal, you’ll find that the love, altruism, and selflessness of others will leave a mark that’s much more prominent.