I’m that Tired Guy, lost amidst a maelstrom of emotions, swept away by sorrow, mourning the loss, the hurt, the anguish. I’m that Tired Guy, feeling empty, drowning in bewilderment, wondering what and why and who.
From nbcnews.com: “Two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing two people, including an 8-year-old. At least 100 injures have been reported.”
Today’s chilling events mar what should have been, what had been for decades, a day of merriment, leisure, a day off from the daily grind, an early Red Sox game and ultimately the challenge of The Race, of arduous training, carrying the hope that maybe, somehow, runners placing one foot in front of the other, along a circuitous route, amidst cheering fans exhorting perseverance and encouragement, to Heartbreak Hill and beyond culminating in…
I am saddened nearly beyond words. To wrap my mind around this…so soon following the horrific events of Newtown still very fresh and raw.
Tonight’s sandwich is more for me than it is for you.
Living in the Deep South for the last nineteen years I will always consider myself a son of Massachusetts. In years past I would sigh wistfully at this time of year…Patriots Day…and fondly remember wandering down to the Dairy Queen on the corner of Chestnut and Union in Ashland.
Some days it rained, others it was bitter cold and yet more often than not the day dawned bright and beautiful. On those particular days the sky was a brilliant azure tapestry sprinkled with an occasional white puffy cloud. For me the dappled Spring sunlight heralded the end to Winter’s grasp, melting thoughts of long, chilly, frozen, snowy, gloomy days in favor of colorful blooms, fresh loamy scents and the excitement of seeing sun dresses, short skirts and long legs.
Everyone came out for this. After the starting point in Hopkinton, the town of Ashland was second in a long line of communities through which the Marathon would run. I’d run around with friends or hang close with my mother and brother. I’d even wander the streets alone, secure in the sense of fellowship the other Ashlanders and I shared, never worrying whether I was too far from home or concerned that some ne’er-do-well would lurk nearby to do me ill.
(My how those times have changed!)
From time to time there was also a small flea market hawking various and sundries. Junk to one and treasure for another, the market held mysteries aplenty. Knowing I was an avid, if inept, tennis aficionado my mother would purchase for me tennis balls from one of the vendors and scrawl the word “Flea” on each one.
But the main event was watching the sea of humanity, thousands strong, roll along the main drag in droves, each one bearing a unique paper sigil demarcating their proud membership as one of the Marathon Anointed. I’d stand in awe as man, woman, child, wheelchair-bound, in costumes, covered in sweat and grime and yet all bearing the same look of determination: by hell or high water I will finish this race.
It didn’t matter the marathon was a grueling twenty-six miles long. It didn’t matter whether they were in shape to run the whole thing or in part.
What counted was their heart, their inner runner, the voice that shouted defiance to the Heavens “Dammit I can do this!”.
And whether it was their first marathon or their last, they were on the road, one foot in front of the other, pushing forward never back, eyes downcast, upward or inward yet the fire burning brightly.
I’m reminded of twenty six words:
To be sure there are more, but that’s what these marathoners have always demonstrated to me.
And I truly hope that’s one thing that will also arise from today’s tragic events.
Regardless of our politics President Obama may have said it best in his speech that I wish to echo here to all those near and far affected by today’s events: “Boston is a tough and resilient town; so are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.”
You’re damn right Sir.