I’ve crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon five times. Five times my family has waited anxiously for me, hoping I wasn’t too sore so they could go shopping later that afternoon. Five times I felt the elation of completing the Super Bowl of marathons; the most celebrated event in the running world.
Several days ago those memories were forever stained with the blood of family members waiting to see their dads, moms, friends and co-workers cross the finish line, much as my wife and daughters had a few years earlier. Viewing the horrendous video in loop after loop of replays, I spotted the large official time clock that sits on the top of the finishing banner. It displayed 4:09 at the time of the blasts. If I had been running this race and had been consistent with my prior Boston times, I would have been about a mile back on Commonwealth Avenue approaching the turn onto Boylston Street.
I would have been stopped and rerouted, confused about the events. Honestly, at that stage of the marathon, most of us are not thinking rationally. We are a bit dehydrated, thoroughly fatigued and thinking of one thing: seeing our loved ones at the finish. At any other race I would have come around the turn on the final stretch, hugging the edge of the road feverishly surveying the crowd for a glimpse of my family. My pace would quicken ever so slightly as I experienced one last surge of adrenaline spying the finish line draped in its iconic Boston Athletic Association unicorn symbols. But I would continue to gaze into the crowd, wanting only to find my wife and daughters cheering for their dad for doing something a bit crazy.
I only wanted to see my family.
On April 15, there were thousands doing the same thing. I feel certain that most of those 26,000 runners were searching the spectators for a face or faces that only they knew best. On that Monday, some searched in vain. They would not see who they were longing to see waiting for them at the finish. Some would not be seen ever again.
These tragedies are universally abhorrent, but we can’t forget they are intensely personal. We are all collectively saddened by the evil and senselessness; however, in the end it’s not about terrorism or politics. It’s about a dad, a mom, a friend and those they love. May God bless and watch over the four souls who are running with Him right now, and continue to watch over the families and injured who remain behind.