Guardian Angels

I have struggled for two days to write a post about Boston, based on my own experiences at the Portland Marathon the last 4 years, but it’s just not coming.

I’ve written, I’ve edited, I’ve saved and in the end, I’ve trashed them all. Nothing I can say can truly capture the spirit and the camaraderie of a marathon and the people who come to watch so I should probably give up.

I only know that when I’m there, I feed off the encouragement of everyone from the tiny little old lady with the sign on her back that says, “This is my 34th marathon, what’s yours?”, to the lean elite runners that you see headed towards the finish when you feel like you’re just getting started, to the very overweight woman at the back of the pack who is struggling but is cheered on by everyone she meets at a turnaround, fellow marathoners and spectators alike. The one who will finish the slowest but will be the most inspirational person for many who are watching her.

So many people and so many stories. Few of them are the lean runners you think of when you imagine marathon runners. They are every day people of every age, shape and size working towards a common goal.

I have felt the emotion and sense of victory at the finish when you’re carried to the end by the encouragement of the spectators. The people who gave up their day to come celebrate with their runners as well as every stranger who passes them on the course. The same people who make up the list of injured and dead because some non-human piece of shit decided they would be his targets on Monday. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of watching the explosions on Monday knowing how important that group of spectators and everyone along the race course for that matter, are to the finishers. And also seeing runners themselves, who likely have overcome so much to be there, injured after what was probably one of the biggest accomplishments of their lives.

My heart is broken and the marathon memory that keeps coming to mind for me is a man I walked behind 2 years ago. The back of his shirt was covered with photos of him and what I assumed was his wife. They were at various races and what looked like vacations together. In many of them she was wearing a Wonder Woman cape. In the center was a picture of her alone and this time, he was walking alone.

As I was passing him, an Elton John song came on my mp3 that I usually skip because it’s too slow but this time I kept it because it reminds me of my Science Guy and I needed him with me at that moment. It feels like a good song to honor all those guardian angels who, without regard for their own safety, ran in to the explosions on Monday to help. Bless them all.


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