Early yesterday morning I rolled the kids out of bed, quickly walked our beagle, and then got drinks and snacks ready to go. Although a holiday, we we’re headed to see the start of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, one town over from Southborough. We arrived at a friend’s house before the roads had closed and enjoyed some breakfast together as we chatted. Then my family along with the daughter of our friend walked the quarter mile to the starting line.
The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a race, a bit crisp but sunny. And Melissa, a half-marathoner and lover of all things running, was unbelievably excited. We made it to the start, looked around at the tents set up on the town green, and chatted about the race. Our kids found a tent selling cowbells to ring. Olivia picked out one with hearts with a peace signs drawn all over it. We walked back down to our friend’s house and took up residence on Main Street to cheer people on.
We watched wave upon wave of starts—first came the folks with disabilities of all kinds, the ones on prosthetics, a man we had read about in the Sunday Globe and Team Hoyt. Then the women’s elite start. Finally, the elite men followed by three waves of about 9,000 people each. Our kids rang their bells out when people ran by, and we clapped and called out encouragement, by name, if the person had printed their names on their shirts. By the time all the runners had passed our vantage point, the wheelchair race was nearing its completion. We headed back inside to watch the finish of the elite runners on TV.
Our family traveled back the 8 miles to Southborough and watched a bit more coverage before enjoying the glorious day.
My brother called to check on us, and that’s how I learned of the bombings. A good friend had just finished the race and was waiting for his wife who was about a half mile behind him. A parishioner stood forty feet from the second explosion. These three and others we knew racing are physically unharmed. The mental and emotional toll will linger for some time.
But I can’t help but think of Olivia’s bell with those heart shaped peace signs. Love and peace. That’s what marathons provide. We saw that in the aftermath yesterday as thousands of people helped out in so many ways.
As I sit in my office on another gorgeous day and think about those impacted forever by this, I am sad. I recognize how much we need love and peace in our world. And I know that even though there are a few out there that want to destroy both of those things, I’m gonna keep ringing that bell in all the ways I know how. Terrorism of any kind only wins when we allow fear to creep in and control us.
One year Melissa will run the Boston Marathon for a charity she loves, and the kids and I will be watching in Boston and cheering her on. Olivia will be ringing that cowbell of hers, and I’ll remember that love and peace are so much stronger than fear.