This morning I am thinking, of course, about Boston. I am thinking about all the Boston Marathons I have attended, many of them right there at the finish line, others along the route — in Wellesley or near Hearbreak Hill — how for two of them, right before I moved away, I worked in the timing booth, rushing out to watch the elite runners cross the line and then back inside to register the times for the crush of runners, the ones who would have been crossing when the bombs hit — the “regular” athletes, many running for charities, others to mark a personal milestone — a fitness challenge, a step in healing, their families and friends gathered to cheer them on, proud.
I am thinking of all the athletes, the ones who have spent hours training, how, for so many of them, this is the ultimate achievement –to run Boston. I’m thinking of everyone I have known who has run this marathon over the years, of the time we shuttled Kathleen to the start in Hopkinton, met her in Wellesley and then yelled ourselves hoarse at the end. And I am thinking of one eight-year old boy, there at the finish line with his mother and sister, waiting for his father to come across, to cheer him on, the excitement growing, soon, soon, his mother would have said. He’ll be coming along soon.
I’m thinking how any number of my friends or family members could have been at that finish line yesterday, about how many friends were scattered along the route, but about how it could have been any of us. In any city. Anywhere in the world.
I’m thinking that when the violence strikes your city, when the streets are your streets, the pain is a bit sharper, the wounds a bit deeper, but how the sadness touches us all, how it could have been any of us. In any city. Anywhere in the world. I’m thinking about how the Marathon turns us all into neighbors, how runners and spectators come from all over the world, how in the spirit of that competition we are all simply human. I’m thinking of all the Patriot Days and all the marathons,how I clapped and cheered, calling out numbers — Keep running 950! You’re doing great! — tearing up each time, inspired if not to run then to take on my own big project and see it to the end, how I couldn’t imagine ever running that far but how maybe it was the Marathon that planted the seeds, how maybe the first time I heard of the Boston to New York AIDS Ride I saw again all those runners on Boylston Street, headed to the finish line and how I wanted to be like them, how I wanted to feel that I had worked my body that hard.
I’m thinking of the responders and of everyone who, hearing the blasts, ran towards them and not away,and how minutes after the news broke and then for hours later, my inbox was flooded with worry for my friends and family, Facebook awash with concern and messages of support.
I’m thinking of how the human spirit is resilient– if sports teach us anything, after all, isn’t it that? And don’t Bostonians know this as well as anyone else — Wait til next year, our famous refrain? — We know what it means to bounce back. To fight on. We know the invincible spirit that brings thousands each year to Boston, to run the Marathon.