I’m just a runner. I don’t know what it feels like to be a mother who loses a son, a friend who loses a best friend, a father who loses a daughter, an aunt who loses a nephew. I don’t know what it feels like to lose a leg in a bombing, to bleed on the sidewalk nor to learn a family member is maimed in a hospital. I only know that I will be back running the Boston Marathon next year.
I won’t be back because I’m strong or because I want to show them — the killers — that I’m not scared. I won’t be back because I’m tough and resilient after those grueling hours spent training for endurance races. I won’t be back to prove anything or send a message to anyone. I wouldn’t know what kind of message to send or to whom. I won’t be back to show life goes on, even though it does and must.
I’ll be back because it’s the only way I can honor the victims of the April 15 bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, and the city mourning them. On that sunny day, I was in the marathon. I did what runners do: I pushed my legs really hard, enjoyed the support of the cheering crowds, crossed the finish line happy about my time, retrieved my belongings and excitedly called my loved ones while walking back to my hotel. I was safe in my room when I heard the first explosion, then the second. I wasn’t hurt nor was anyone I know. But just 200 yards (180 meters) away, an 8-year-old boy and two others lost their lives. More than 170 were injured and some will never walk again. I was close in distance and far in fate. I can’t help the victims and their families. I can’t console them. I can’t save them. I can’t undo their pain.
I did know pain earlier that day, but a different kind: the kind that I inflict on myself. Suffering is a choice when I run and train. I have the freedom to stop when it hurts. I can decide to push my body beyond its limits and then push harder. Choice is a luxury the victims and their families don’t have. No one can stop the unbearable pain inflicted by others.
That’s why I’ll be back next year. I’ll do what I can: run.
|Happier times before the marathon’s start with Tomas…|
|.. and Alex….|
|At the finish line, under the same clock that marked 4h09 when the first bomb exploded in images broadcast across the world. Same place, different fate.|
This is lovely, Cecile. Thank you.