SMS received at 3:30pm: “Tell me you are not at marathon. Two bombs just went off.”
A sick feeling quickly filled my stomach.
Today is Patriots’ Day – a public holiday in the states of Maine and Massachusetts, commemorating the 1775 battles of Lexington and Concord – two of the earliest battles in the American Revolutionary War. What is celebrated with war reenactments in Concord is dominated in the city of Boston by the Boston Marathon, the oldest continuous run marathon in the world, with an estimated 27,000 runners and 500,000 spectators registered for this, its 117th year.
Surrounded by visiting runners at a Boston pub yesterday afternoon, an athlete myself and a foreigner to boot, I sensed their focus, the anticipation, the butterflies… just the way I feel the day before a race. Smitten, I strongly considered going to watch the race, however, I am a participant in life, not a spectator so I decided against it. Thank god.
The winners were from Kenya (women’s) and Ethiopia (men’s), as usual. But aside from that, this year’s race was like no other: Two bombs went off at the finish line, killing three people and injuring over one hundred, some critically.
Butterflies were replaced by utter disbelief. Hours of messages, calls, tweets and emails ensued from friends and family from as far away as California, Chile, Sweden and Australia making sure that I was not among those injured or worse, which surprisingly made me feel strangely disconnected and broken into pieces. Why were we not all together?
The answer is this: As a traveler and an expat, I’m very happy in my life is here and now, right now, and am surrounded by beautiful people – but throughout my journey, I’ve left and been handed pieces of hearts and souls across the globe. Thankfully, souls know no distance.
Thank you for being close today.
(Reuters/Jose Miguel Gomez)