I wavered all last week between writing about Boston here or not. I ended up going silent except for Twitter. To Twitter I remained glued all week – I DID NOT participate in retweeting crazy rumors and police scanner info, thank you very much, but I did send a few thoughts and some judicious retweets out into the ether. At night while Jack slept I would try to write about Boston – a draft from late Monday night sat here all week. My disjointed thoughts refused to be brought together in any fashion I thought worthy of sharing. I tried every single day this week to sort out what I was feeling and thinking. I wondered if I managed to sort it out, would it be worth sharing with anyone? Because I desperately wish I had something profound to say here. Not because I long for a wider audience or anything, but because I wish so desperately that something would make sense for any of us. I wish I had those words of wisdom or comfort and I don’t.
In the end, the week and the news story came to an end in a crazy, spectacular fashion. We’re still waiting for answers though and may never get them. Instead of sleeping Saturday night I stayed up until 1:30 trying to sort out what I know and feel. Indulge me and let me click publish on this.
When someone bombs your city nothing makes sense. Everything is terrifying. I know this, trust me. I am a New Yorker, and I was here on 9/11. Nothing makes sense. It most likely never will.
What I do know is that if you’ve never watched a marathon in person, you should try it sometime. My sister ran marathons and she always told me how strangers cheering for her on the course lifted her up time after time. You feel like you can’t make it up that hill and the spectators know that it’s their job to help you get there. They will yell your butt up that hill, going hoarse in the effort. I’ve never seen anything like the cheering for strangers that goes on at a marathon. It’s beyond uplifting really.
Marathons are celebrations of endurance and we who watch them know that. We stand and cheer for our friends and loved ones who have chosen to make this their goal. They’ve trained for months and months to make this happen. They are struggling to meet a personal goal or raise money or awareness for a charity they believe in. They are ordinary people, setting out to do something extraordinary. We who watch know that and love everyone running or wheeling through it. The strangers standing next to me in the crowd would ask who I was there for and we’d all exchange the names of our runners and lend our voices to speed them on to the finish line.
I can’t speculate on why someone would want to destroy that. Or maybe I can. Watching a marathon I often felt that I was watching the best of human nature on display. Reflect for a moment on what kind of person wants to see that die. I can only go there for a few moments myself. I’m choosing instead, like so many others did this week, to look at the images of the ordinary citizens, race volunteers and first responders who ran to help. The stories flowing out of Boston of the kindness of strangers. The citizens who came out and lined the streets to thank the police and FBI who successfully hunted down the suspects Friday night. I saw several remarks on Twitter that it resembled the cheering at a marathon.
Running Boston is a big deal. My sister qualified to run in Boston and mere days before she was supposed to fly up to run the marathon for the first time, she was mauled by a pit bull while out for a training run. She couldn’t walk for a month. She thought she might never race again.
I made sure to be there in Boston when she did. Her husband and I were the cheering squad. We cheered and cheered and were there on Boyleston Street to see her finish. Sitting here in my living room, all these years later watching the horror of this week. I cannot comprehend this. I cannot. I remember the pride my sister had in finishing that race. In QUALIFYING for that race. Every runner we met felt the same. I’m watching these runners and spectators on tv and I feel like I know them. I have been there. I have stood there. Kids are there to cheer their parents on. Kids. Babies.
I’m holding tight to my memories of Boston. You gave my sister a beautiful race when she needed it most. My first thoughts were of all of you that we met while there. The runners we still know. The volunteers who work so hard to make it all happen. The spectators who would pull you through to the end if sheer will could do it. My heart aches that this was done to them. To you, Boston. And to all of us.
Nothing makes sense. It never will. But I do take some comfort in knowing that we all are all connected. When bombs go off, there are people who run to help. We live in a place where this is rare and our local, state and federal agencies will work tirelessly to hunt the bad guys down.
I’ve said a lot of extra prayers this week for basically the whole world – a lot specifically for those families of the dead and wounded. I’ve held my loved ones close and wondered once again how I’m going to raise a child in a world where these things happen. I guess I’ll just figure it out as I go, as every mother since the dawn of time has, and I will hope that people still line the streets to cheer strangers on when they need it. I want Jack to know that side of humanity. I want every child to know that.