Upon exiting the expo, we were back out on Boylston and the police had it blocked off. One of the police officers informed me that a number of the survivors were participating in the invitational mile (a race for the elites to see how fast they could run a mile). At the end, the survivors were walking. We were fortunate enough to see two groups of walkers walk the last bit of Boylston to the finish line. I can’t tell you how emotional this was for me. At first, I don’t think I thought too much of it, but as I watched them walk, I realized a few things.
The first thing that struck me was when the first group of walkers stopped. They stopped at the exact location on the route where the first bomb went off. They had a moment of silence, talked/prayed amongst themselves, and that it was then that I started to admire not just the physical strength of these people, but the emotional strength they had.
They were standing on the direct spot that, one year ago, changed their lives forever.
Their lives changed there from a physical standpoint and from an emotional one. I think our first reaction when seeing someone who is physically impaired is to think how that would affect us on a physical level. Makes sense, right? We think of the things we couldn’t do if we were, say, in a wheelchair, or we think about how we would button up a shirt is we only had one hand. But we don’t also think about the emotional side of it – and in this case, how they became physically impaired having such an emotional impact. That that emotional side may weigh on them just as much, if not more, than the physical aspect of their impairment.
I started to thank my stars for these survivors. For their strength. For their example to us. For their courage to return to and walk through the spot that had changed their lives forever.
Following that group, there was another survivor and companion. He, too, stopped at the spot of the bombing and then proceeded to the finish line.
This also seems obvious, but it struck me at that point – this man was crossing the area he had been forbidden to cross the year ago.
That the amount of emotional strength this man had to have to continue on in a spot that had been denied to him, with a direct attempt at taking his life the last time he was in this spot. And how he fought through and kept walking. For every step he took, a tear welled up behind my sunglasses until I started crying and had to look away.
THIS was what being at Boston was about this year for me. It was a race, but it was so much more than a race. Witnessing this kind of strength, bravery, courage and patriotism is something that does not happen always… and this was a place where it was happening with every turn of the corner. With every person that chose to be there that weekend. It was a choice. It was all a choice. And I was glad I made that choice.
So… if that wasn’t enough… we then found ourselves at the finish line. Sacred ground in my eyes. And, I am not sure if you noticed, but there is a very beautiful, old church that stands at the finish line – South Church.and I was given one.
I think this will be one of (if not THE) most treasured ‘souvenir’ of the trip. These scarves were handmade by people around the world who had knit them with thoughts of love and peace and prayed over them before sending them to Boston to be distributed to the runners.
|A volunteer handing out scarves|
|Tag on the scarf|
Now, the city wasn’t just supporting the runners/cause/event, the US wasn’t just supporting it, but the world coming together to support it all as well. As I felt the need to come and run, these people felt the need to do the same in sending the scarves – their way of fighting terrorism.
|Mine came from California|
I kept my scarf close and safe that weekend… and will always. It is a symbol of so much more for me and I am honored to wear it.
The more I was there, the more I was realizing how much this town NEEDED this event. How THIS was the weekend that was going to help not only the city and its people, but the world. While this probably struck closer to home with certain demographics, we were all in this together.
How the whole world was rooting for the race to succeed and for the terrorists to fail. And that they would.