My sister slowed her pace at the sound of my cheering. She didn’t want to miss seeing us, even if it added a few seconds to her time. She excitedly waved through her sweat and continued to strike: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. it was a feat of mental strength and rhythmic repetition. It was mile 9. The sight of her husband and two children, Daniel age 8, and Jay 6, were the source of encouragement necessary to continue running on her fractured foot, mother of 5 joints and lack of time. The boys grinned with pride. They were also impressed. They had never really considered their hockey and soccer speed coming from Mom, until she ran by with such graceful determination, in one of the first main groups of female runners. I cheered for my sister because she deserved it. It was her first race, and she was fast, even after having a whole bunch of babies. She was happy, too. Humbly proud of her accomplishment, gaining confidence with every stride and step, in herself, and in God’s love for her.
As I try to settle my thoughts about Boston, the images of my sister running by, the smiles on the faces of her boys, the thousands of other families who shared such similar moments, keep flashing in and out of my mind. We attend and participate in these things because they are supposed to be fun, an opportunity to deepen our experience as becoming better, faster, stronger, human beings. Its freedom at its finest in a very exposed and obvious way. The more I try to settle, the more I become unsettled. Freedom makes us who we are. And that’s exactly what these crazies are trying to take away. They capitalize on its delicate purity in an attempt to destroy it with fear and violence. And they always seem to pick the things that are the most beautiful. Any time something like this happens, I once again start to battle between wanting to be safe steward of my family and myself, and being a crazy paranoid person who can’t sleep because I’m convinced tonight is the night someone is going to break in and do terrible, awful, things. I want to attend a marathon as a spectator, or a runner, and not think about getting blown up. The thoughts, the fears, the anxieties, all make me want to run away and hide underneath all of the covers and never come out.
But, then, I would miss it. I would miss my kids running in the yard completely naked because they see no reason to wear pants, or shirts, or socks, or shoes when its hot and we own a hose. And I would miss my CCD kids praying for whatever loser did all this stupid stuff in Boston, because “he doesn’t want to be friends with Jesus,” and for the boy who died, who is exactly like them, except now, “he gets to be with Jesus all the way and meet his guardian angel.” The terrorist didn’t expect runners to run to the hospital to give their exhausted blood. Nor did he expect restaurant owners to open their doors to hungry people and give away free food. He didn’t want unknowing toddlers to run around their yard giggling the next day, or CCD students to pray for him and rejoice in his victim’s union with God. God is still Good, the race is not over, and He is the finish.