For the past 8+ years, my husband (D) and I have had a family tradition. It's our April vacation, and time is less precious than it is during school weeks. We wake up decently early, drop A off to a family member's house, and head down to the city. Every year past, we have gone to the ball game, and then walked over to observe the strongest, most enthusiastic people ever. I admire them and usually think about how I could never, ever join them. My husband gets inspired to up his workouts, and discusses becoming one of them in the future. We then walk on, usually quickly (channeling the people we just saw?), to find some place for lunch, head back for more observation, then hop back on public transportation to retrieve A and end our day and start the rest of our vacation.
This year was different. This year, we didn't have tickets to the ball game, but got in to the city early to see the earliest, elitist athletes charge to the finish. We followed the athletes route for a bit, waited, cheered, talked, cheered more, talked to some babies and toddlers, pet an amazingly calm chocolate lab who loved being outside on a gorgeous day in April. The elites flew by, we cheered and clapped. We walked to see some more, and got caught in a human traffic jam as thousands of people crowded to see the amazing feats performed just feet in front of us. At the last moment, we dodged down an alley and hiked to a restaurant for lunch. Early for us, but fun nonetheless. As always, I envied the muscles, speed, endurance and dedication of those I saw. As always, D planned to increase his fitness and make plans to join the athletes. We also discussed baseball, Jackie Robinson, and the holiday that takes place in this amazing city.
The ball game got out, lunch was over, we headed back. For the first time in 8 years, we choose to take a detour and let our inner history geeks take over. Not so inner, we both teach the subject! We paid our respects to the Franklins (but no Ben!), John Hancock, James Otis, Paul Revere Sr. and Mother Goose. We admired the spread of green with so much history, (google gibbets sometime) and so much freedom, and so much beauty. We then planned on heading back to the athletes, watching for some friends, before retreating and retrieving A.
For some reason, unbeknown to us, we decided to head back to the subway and head home, telling ourselves that our friends would understand that we left, and so we did. Around 2:40 pm, we boarded the train. Shortly thereafter, our phones went crazy. That's when our annual Patriots Day Monday turned from adventure into shock, then anger. That's when the amazingness of this city turned out, a city that is renowned for fighting back and standing up for what's right.
Don't think it wasn't planned. Whoever bombed the Boston Marathon knew exactly what they were doing, both where and when. Patriot's Day is only a Massachusetts holiday. Few people outside the Bay State know that Patriot's Day honors the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and that it is re-enacted each year, with the Patriots, that rag tag bunch, fighting the well oiled Redcoated machine that were the British. Only hours before, (233 years prior), Paul Revere, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott jumped on their horses and warned the citizens that the Redcoats were coming. (They were all British at the time. No British were coming!!)However, whomever planned this forgot one thing. PATRIOTS day. Did they really think that Boston would shut down and beg for forgiveness? (for what??) Did they really think that Bostonians, known for literally hundreds of years as being annoyed at injustice, would just sit back? I think that was the problem. There was no thought here, just stupidity and twistedness.
D and I were blessed. Yes, we were at the finish line that day. When I say that we watched the elites finish, we were standing at mile 26. When I say that we walked through a throng of people, we were squeezing past the Boston Public Library. When I say we were right there, we were RIGHT THERE. Why we didn't go back, as we always do, to watch some friends, we have no idea. We were blessed. Our friends and family who were there were all safe. Scared, shocked, and pissed off, but safe. Others were not so lucky. 3 innocent people lost their lives, and hundreds of others were grievously wounded, both physically and emotionally.
So, what's next years plan? I don't know yet. But I will tell you one thing, this year, I will take that dedication, determination and bit of insanity that most marathoners have going, and I will take it into my heart and learn from it. The stories of runners running on to the hospitals to give blood, or running over to help the first responders, will live in my heart. Next time I'm out plodding for 15 minutes, with my shins, calves and lungs begging for mercy, I'm going to remember those images and the fear I heard all over, and keep pushing.
For the 3, including young Martin Richard.
For all the runners, from many countries in the world, who gathered there to prove to themselves how amazing they are.
For the first responders, all of them, who kept people safe, organized, and in line.
For the US
For the world.
For me, you, and everyone else.