Despite the rain and clouds, there was no hesitation getting up Tuesday morning to run. I knew for the last 364 days that I would run on this day. I needed to run, and not just because the marathon is less than a week away. Running is how I deal with everything, at least in part, that causes me stress, discomfort or pain. The anniversary of the most frightening day of my life met the criteria.
I was also a bit anxious for the Marathon Tribute I was scheduled to attend that afternoon. When offered the opportunity to attend, I knew I could not miss it. Yet, I had no idea what it would entail and how I might respond. The pit in my stomach on my bus ride to the Hynes Convention Center felt more like I was going to the dentist to get a cavity filled. What if I cried my eyes out?
tribute: (noun) an act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration.
Fortunately, the Tribute was just that. It paid respect to the lives lost, celebrated the successes of the survivors and the strength of the community. The program consisted of musical performances and speeches from survivors and politicians, including Mayor Menino, Mayor Walsh, Governor Patrick and Vice President Biden.
The speeches for the survivors were inspiring. While honest about the difficulties and challenges they have faced over the last year, I was amazed how each was able to give thanks to the community that has and continues to support them.
My greatest comfort came from Mayor Menino. As he walked on stage to a standing ovation, I felt a calm similar to when, as a child, my mother would tell me everything would be all right. He told the audience “This day will always be hard,” but that this place will always be strong. He reassured the audience that included survivors, first responders, medical professionals and marathon volunteers that they “are strong in this broken place.” His words felt like a giant hug on the room.
Following the tribute, the crowd filed down Boylston Street, filling the grandstands, to observe a moment of silence at 2:49pm. I held it together through the tribute, even the survivor’s speeches, but those darn bagpipes get me every time. The rain seemed to fall a bit harder while we stood there, but no one complained about getting soaked.
As we waited for the ceremony to start, I recalled where I might have been the minutes leading up to the bombing; I crossed the finish line at 2:45 last year. I thought about where my parents and boyfriend were at 2:49. I didn’t know at the time they were in front of the Old South Church. I thought about how the next (maybe?) 10 minutes were possibly the scariest 10 minutes of my life. This day will always be hard.
As Mayor Menino said in his speech, strength thrives even in the heartaches of today because of the people of Boston. All of the speakers reminded me how community, whether the city of Boston, the running community or survivor support groups helped the wounds inflicted on this city and it’s people heal. On the anniversary of the marathon bombings, as we grieve and recover, each in our own way, we reflect on the past and move forward together.
As always, let me know what you think and what’s going on in your running community. Post comments here or email me at RunAlongBoston@gmail.com.
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