Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I awoke Monday morning to a chime from my phone, an automatic text letting me know that my dad had passed the first checkpoint in the Boston Marathon. The texts kept coming, and though I was physically teaching at an elementary school that day, my mind was thousands of miles away in Boston.

I live far from my family, but I speak with them often and am not usually brought to tears with missing them. However, the earliest hours of my Monday morning saw me blink back more than a few tears as I remembered a weekend three years ago when my siblings and I went to Boston together to cheer on my dad. The spirit of the city that weekend was indescribable: a tangible, joyous celebration of the human body and will. Look at what we can do. Amongst the beautiful architecture and historical sights, we mingled with thousands of runners, with their tell-tale runner's legs and wardrobes, the city buzzing with energy, excitement, vitality, pride.

The day of the race came and we carefully planned our course, where to cheer. We stood by the road, screaming for thousands of unknown runners accomplishing an amazing feat of determination and endurance. In the end, it didn't go as planned. Sometimes, no matter how you train, your body betrays you, and Boston 2010 was one of those days. He walked the final nine miles of the race.

This year as the text updates came in, my heart ached to again be with my siblings, dad, and stepmom, watching my dad finally accomplish his goal - to run a great Boston Marathon. Redemption. My phone buzzed in my pocket. He was finished - right on target, an impressive marathon time of sub-9 minute miles. I sat for a moment, wishing I could throw my arms around him in congratulations, that I could've stood by the side of the road one more time screaming his name.

About a half an hour later I sat down and checked the news online. Explosion at finish line of Boston Marathon, read the breaking news headline. The accompanying news article at that time was one paragraph long. I quickly texted my sister and my stepmom. Though it was a half hour or so before I heard from them, I was only vaguely concerned. I still thought it was a minor electrical explosion of some sort. Initially I had no idea the horrific scope of what had happened, and by the time the news began to trickle in, I already knew. We're okay. We're safe.

Throughout the rest of the day, five minutes here, five minutes there, I read the live feed as the scope of the devastation began to unfold. In tragedies like this there are so many victims in so many ways, big and small. Tragedies both unfathomably huge - loss of life, limb, and innocence, and tragedies small - an unfinished race, hours of panicked uncertainty, an accomplishment tainted. It feels sick and selfish to care about not finishing a race, but a marathon is so much more than a race, and the Boston Marathon so much greater still. Most of these people are just regular people, who challenged their body and mind to do something amazing, and then worked towards that goal for over a year - sacrificing and training month after month for something that, for thousands, ended up just outside their grasp. I feel that small tragedy for you. For those, too, that did finish, robbed of the celebration and victory that this moment should have held. For the community of Boston itself, to have such evil inflicted on something so joyful.

For the joy reflected in this moment, and thousands of others like it, to be overshadowed by loss and heartache.

I had taken my running gear with me Monday morning, intending to go right after work. Tears again stung my eyes as I pulled out my shoes, worn with hundreds of miles. I again tied them up, and felt the ground fall away beneath my feet. One foot in front of the other, praying for Boston every step of the way, for all that was lost - both for what will be rebuilt, and for what will never be recovered. Thinking of the spirit of joy and celebration, for the determination emanating from the city and all it stands for. Look at what we can do. Now let's do some good.

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