Boston Marathon Bombing – Part 1
Early the morning of Monday, April 15, 2013, I watched the progress of the Boston Marathon on television. As is my habit on Patriot’s Day, I watch until the wheelchair and elite runners are close to Kenmore Square. Then I walk the few short blocks to the finish line and watch as runners approach Exeter Street, just yards from the finish line. From that vantage point I cheer them home–You can do it! You’re almost there! Good job! And, of course, the general purpose, high-pitched: Woooooo!
This year, I didn’t make it for the elite wheelchair finishers. (A bit of lethargy slowed me down that morning.) That didn’t stop me from crying with joy as they crossed the finish line–the bells of the Old South Church peal in celebration as they break the tape. I was straightening up in the bedroom when I heard the bells for each wheelchair finisher, and ran to the t.v. to catch the replays.
By the time the elite women were approaching the finish, I’d made my way out to Boylston Street and found a spot just west of Exeter Street, without too many tall people staked out near the fence. Being on the taller side myself, I can stand a few feet back behind most people and still have a decent view. We all cheered and clapped for the elite wheelchair runners making their way to amazing finishes, not far behind the first place winners.
A woman hopped onto the rounded top of an olive green relay mailbox, just to my right. Her friend leaned into her legs to hold her there, and she twisted to face the oncoming runners. As the first elite woman runner came down Boylston, she screamed, “She’s coming! She’s coming! She’s coming!” and rang a cowbell in celebration. She was so excited, she was bouncing up and down and her friend was struggling to hold her, to make sure she didn’t slip off her precarious perch.
Her dark eyes were bright and her smile huge. Her many braids, black with just a touch of grey, were gathered together in a fat ponytail down her back; they bounced along with her excitement. It seemed like her first marathon, but I don’t know. Maybe this was her fiftieth. No matter, she was having the time of her life. It didn’t even bother me that by being up on the mailbox, she blocked my view of the runners coming down the street. Her excitement was infectious. Like so many of us do in a crowd like that, I knew I’d only see the winner for the briefest of moments, as she passed directly in front of me. So I cheered and cheered in anticipation until I saw her, just 10 feet away, running like a graceful gazelle.
After watching the first elite male runner stride past, looking to all the world like he was out for a stroll on a crisp spring day, it was time to head back inside. The plan for the afternoon was much different. Grab some lunch, meet my friends for a picnic on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and then head to the grandstands in front of the Boston Public Library for the afternoon. My friend knows a guy…and she got us VIP passes for the grandstands, good for anytime after 2:00 pm. An amazing surprise gift by this very sweet man. Since one of the fun parts of watching at the finish is cheering on those for whom this is an achievement of a lifelong dream or a leisure pursuit of the highest order…I knew we’d get to cheer on some people who might really need it at that moment.
I couldn’t wait…