My husband ran the Boston marathon in 2009 and 2010.
The second year, we all went up and made a family trip of it. I had a great, if stressful, time smushing myself and my enormous stroller and my almost-four-year-old on and off public transport trying to find a good place to spot my runner, surrounded by hordes of friendly game-goers and marathon-supporters. Patriots’ Day is not a generally observed public holiday elsewhere in this country, but in Boston (and Massachusettes in general, I suppose) it’s like St Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July all rolled into one, with ballgames and races and parades.
|I have no pictures of the race because I was too busy trying to hold onto the children.
But this is that afternoon, outside the very excellent Boston Children’s Museum.
B looks pretty good for a man who ran 26.2 miles that morning, doesn’t he?
We weren’t at the finish line because it was too hard to get to, too deep with people, but we met up near there after he’d run his race and been given his finisher’s medal and his shiny insulating blanket and eaten a banana or three and picked up his bag, and we all went back together to our not-quite-central hotel.
This morning, the day after the race, the streets around Copley Plaza are usually strewn with litter: discarded paper cups, water bottles, leaflets, banana peels, and sandwich wrappers flipping idly in the breeze, waiting for some efficient street-cleaning machine to show up and restore order. Today, judging from the photos I’ve seen (but not sought out), the streets are zigzagged and splotched with blood, scattered with glass shards.
There are no words to express how wrong this is. I am angry. Sick and angry. And Boston isn’t even my city; the people are not my people, except that all runners are a family and I’ve met nothing but cameraderie and helpfulness when toting my children to watch their dad in New York, Boston, and Chicago.
The boy who died was eight years old. He was with his sister and his mom, watching his dad run. His sister lost a leg and his mother is seriously injured.
As I scoured the first news article I read yesterday, I realised the information I was looking for was the time the explosions happened. I wanted to know if my husband would have been one of the runners coming in then, had he been running this year. It’s irrational, but we always search for the links, looking to make sure that even if we had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, we wouldn’t have been the exact ones hurt. When I saw that it happened just about at the four-hour mark, some tiny part of me lifted: he would probably have been past the line and we’d all have moved to a less crowded spot to reunite.
But that’s ridiculously selfish. We could have been there, we could have been hurt; other people were; and in the big picture it doesn’t really matter that they were not us and we were not them. It shouldn’t have happened.
Right now, I don’t want to take the kids to watch any more big marathons. I don’t want B to run any, really. Sometimes when I am home alone and my husband has gone out for a long run or travelled alone to run a marathon, I refer to myself as a running widow. I don’t think I’ll be saying that any more.
Boston, our hearts go out to you.