PoliticsThe Boston Bombings

The Boston Bombings

The Boston Bombings

Today, as runners and Members of Parliament gather at the Centennial Flame to march in solidarity to the American Embassy, it is hard to believe that only a week has passed since the Boston Marathon.  This time last week I was running the marathon, overwhelmed by the excitement of being there and just taking it all in. The Boston Marathon is a huge party from beginning to end as spectators line the streets of the 42.2-km route.  Some drink beer to celebrate as they scream encouraging slogans, while others blast uplifting beats from their car stereos, each with his or her own way to cheer you on.  It is festive and instead of people whining about street closures (sorry, Toronto, but you need to relax), Bostonians have street parties all along the route as they hand out food to runners.  I was struck by the hospitality, generosity, fun-loving atmosphere and community support for the event.  It is incredible.  And the marathon organizers are absolutely phenomenal.  Why anyone would want to mess with that for mindless, hideous sick glory is completely mindboggling.

When that first bomb went off, I was sipping water past the finish line in the athletes’ recovery area, chatting with another runner.  He was disappointed with his finishing time. He ran slower from low sodium levels.  (If only I could run that fast to be worried about such things.) I complained about my time which admittedly was pretty bad, but I sucked because of missing a few too many hill training sessions and my inability to refuse free food along the route, or was slowed down by hand-slapping little hands offering support along the way.

When the bomb went off, we figured it was maybe a speaker blowing up, or an incident at a nearby construction site. Then, seconds later, the second bomb burst.  The other runner and did not realize exactly what happened but we knew something felt horribly wrong.  We continued walking for a bit, and then I sat down on the stairs of a hotel when a man ran out screaming “It’s a bomb! It’s a bomb!”  And then the pandemonium erupted. I came out physically unscathed.  I only wish I had stayed to help.  I wish I could have done something then and now.

There is something horrific about experiencing the kind of terror that shakes you to your core, stripping you of the safety you take for granted in public spaces.  The sound of police cars or emergency crews sent me into fits of panic.  I can’t imagine the trauma those who were closer to the action must be experiencing.  Last weekend, as I stepped onto a closed Colonel By Drive to run, I was paralyzed by fear of what could possibly lie ahead.  This apprehension was completely irrational.  But that fear, that insecurity passed and it will eventually disappear.  We must never forget what happened on that beautiful spring day in Boston that changed the lives of so many.  We must never forget the loss.  But we must also move on and not allow the horror of these attacks to overtake our lives.  To not do so would make every terrorist smile in victory.  We cannot let them win.  It sounds so clichéd but it is true. So let’s line those streets, Ottawa and cheer on the runners in May and celebrate LIFE.

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