For the Survivors, the Fighters, and the Taken

Boylston Street reopened today. Our city is grieving still, yes, but also crawling back to what will have to be our new normal.

I had arranged an after-work run with one of my great college girlfriends who recently moved back to Boston. We met at her apartment off Boylston and cut right over to the river.

What a night. Here in New England we get a lot of days that can be described as teasers, or faux-spring. Tonight felt like it might be here for real. The weather was spectacular, the trees flowering, and hundreds of runners, walkers, and cyclists made their way around the river on the Esplanade. I was energized by the sheer number of people and comforted by the familiar route.

This, I thought as we ran, is home.

It’s a shame I didn’t bring my phone or a camera with me because the light, sunshine, shadows, and water looked spectacular. You’ll have to take my word for it. We ran five miles, chatted here and there, and ended up walking down Boylston Street, past the sites of both explosions and to the new memorial set up in Copley Square Park after. Surreal is still an accurate adjective. Heartbreaking is interchangeable.

I may have already repeated this again recently, but it replays over and over in my head fairly often when it comes to running, and luck, and gratitude: I run to honor and remember people who cannot. I run to give my mind a chance to meditate on daily life, big ideas, justice and injustice. I run to make my legs strong and to appreciate what my body can accomplish when I treat it with respect. I run because I can and because I know there are others who cannot — cannot today, cannot tomorrow, and for some, cannot ever again.

During the first season I managed the Boston team, there was a man who ran with our team who was sort of an unlikely marathoner, but he dedicated himself to making it happen and on race day, wore a jersey that read: I run for the survivors, the fighters, and the taken. Ah ha. It became something of a mantra with that group, and a story our coaches shared with the team the next year, too. I saw it make rounds on social media over the past few months and am glad to know that this individual has created a legacy with three well-considered words and 26.2 hard-run miles (among other things, really. He is an incredible dude).

To this day, seeing him make his way down Boylston Street to the finish line (flanked by two rock star coaches, who I also adore) remains one of the most inspiring and empowering moments etched into my memory. His dedication is equally poignant now, loaded with even more meaning.

For the survivors, the fighters, and the taken. I run because I can and because I know there are others who cannot.