I’ve been making every excuse I could not to run lately. My hip was sore, my knee was wonky, my back has been bad, but none of those excuses could stop me today. After seeing the people who lost limbs and loved ones and even their lives, I felt like I had to run, because I was still able to run.
It was a chance to escape from the news, from the ceaseless loop of the same tragic images being played over and over again. It was a chance to escape from the internet and the constant barrage of racist and hate filled conspiracy theories and panic induced lies. It was a chance to escape from my own thoughts, from imagining how it felt to be standing and cheering one minute and broken and bloody the next. Running gives me clarity and peace, and it was something I needed today.
Yesterday, my twelve year old was trying to comprehend the scope of the tragedy. We were at physical therapy when we heard the news. He is recovering from a broken ankle. There were four TV screens mounted on the wall in front of his exercise bike, each showing things that no twelve year old should ever have to see. I tried to point out all of the brave and wonderful people who were rushing to help the injured. I spoke about the policemen and the firemen and the ordinary people who stepped in to do what they could for the victims. I told him this was what was beautiful about our country.
As my son asked questions, I tried my best to both answer him honestly and yet comfort him. I don’t know if I succeeded. The truth was, these were questions no child should ever have to ask, and my answers were insufficient. There are no good answers. Such hatred and cruelty is simply incomprehensible to anyone except for the vile sort of animal who would perpetrate such a crime.
I looked around at the faces of the other people in the gym, as they watched in stunned silence. They were all in various stages of recovery from different sorts of injuries. All I could think about was the people who’d been injured in Boston, and what their recoveries would be like. After the initial euphoria they would feel at surviving, soon the reality would set in. They would spend countless weeks and months in a place like this before they could even begin living their new “normal.” Their lives had changed forever in a single moment.
I carried this with me as I ran this morning. I ignored my inconsequential aches and pains and ran further and faster than I have in a long time. It felt good, and empowering, and I was grateful for my two strong legs that could carry me anywhere. I’d lost appreciation for them somewhere along the line, but now I had it back.
I will run again, and I will keep running. I’ll never run a marathon. I’ll probably never even run a 5 K. But every time I run, I will think about those minutes in Boston, and remember the people who can’t run anymore. And I will run - for them.