I just got back from Boston. I was there for the wedding, not the marathon, and my friends who went down to watch the finish line made it back safely to get on the 3:50pm flight. We were waiting in the airport, and suddenly we realized what we were seeing on the screen, and we all gathered around the televisions and called our family to let them know that yes, we were fine, no, we were nowhere near the marathon. Runners were trickling through security, boarding flights, fielding concerned calls from family. Spectators were staring in horror, because they had just been there.
I was feeling such an odd mix of shock and horror, because really, marathon spectators? Runners? Who has it in for runners?
I feel heartbroken for the people who lost family, who lost limbs, who lost an awful lot of blood on the sidewalk. I felt heartbroken for all of those people who put so much effort into training for today, only to have it blown away so quickly. I felt anxiety for the people who were searching for their loved ones. If you have ever run a race, you know that finding your significant other or your friend after isn’t an easy task. And then I saw this picture.
And that’s when I lost it. Because that could have been me. Not specifically, because I will never qualify for Boston, but really, it could have been any of us. Yes, we could also have been in the stands, and this is where we were genuinely lucky that my crazy ultrarunner friend didn’t qualify for Boston when we ran our marathon last year. Because we were in Boston for this wedding and she might very well have tried to run the race and there is a good chance we would have gone to cheer her on. She was at the finish line this morning, and then she watched the televisions at Logan with horror.
Race day is such a wonderful thing. And for these runners, today, I can’t imagine how they feel. Especially anyone who couldn’t finish because of the bombing. Can you imagine coming down the home stretch and then…total and complete devastation? How scared their families must have been. How scared the actual injured must have been. I can’t even think about the fatalities, because I can’t imagine taking your kid to watch the finish line and coming home without them. I can’t imagine going out to watch a friend or a family member run this amazing race and not coming home. When somebody comes out to support you during a marathon, it is the greatest feeling in the world. It feels larger than life. And here we are. None of these people will ever be the same.
Going forward, do we change the way we race? Does every marathon become a potential terrorist attack? I don’t know.
In the meantime, we lace up our shoes, we take to the streets, we roll up our sleeves and give blood, we hug our loved ones, we worry about the future and we mourn the past. We try to make the world a better place for our children, and we remind ourselves that senseless tragedy is everywhere, and we are obligated to do everything we can to prevent it, not just hide from it. I only wish I had any kind of idea how to do that.