Today, my brother-in-law ran the Boston Marathon.
He decided just last week that he was going to do it. He qualified by having an incredible time in his first marathon in NY, a year and a half ago. I found out about his intent when my aunt Cynda texted me for their contact info. I was in on the loop right away. I got to tell her how good he is, as he is rather quiet about his accomplishments.
So, today I texted right away after I got on BAA.org and checked his progress at the 15k mark when he had been at it just over an hour. The phone app on my sister and aunt's phones wasn't working, and they quickly became dependent on my texts to know where he was at.
They were in the Metro on their way to Heartbreak Hill along with my 10 and 8 year old nieces; the hill is around the 35K marker of the race.
What kind of weird world do we live in? I live in Indiana and I was the ground team. I tracked him kilometer after kilometer. I texted his whereabouts. He's "right near I-95." He's at the "30k mark!" Now, "At 33.33K. You guys still with me?!" "He's very near Boston College. Maybe past Crosby road?"... "34.5k"... "Lake Street."
They finally saw him. He stopped and drank my uncle's water... My response: "Are you able to follow him on your devices so I should shut up?"
"No keep sending!"
I was in it to the bitter end. By this time, the five fans had hopped on the Boston Metro to try to make it to the finish line. To Copley. He had 7k to run, but he ran it faster than they could ride a Metro, and...
They never made it.
No, they were not injured. Thank God, everyone is alright, although my niece said it was the scariest day of her life. They got stuck in underground traffic, and were late to the finish line, met up with him, and congratulated him on his fantastic run of under 3 hours, then went to a nearby restaurant. As they finished up there, they heard the first explosive detonate. A bomb? One said. Second one went off. Thunder?
Ambulances went by. The restaurant was evacuated. Confirmation of a bomb. People on cell phones. Metro line halted. Police tried to keep them from crossing to another area. Aunt shepherded them toward the other Metro line which they were able to board and exit the city to the suburb in which our relatives live.
You know the rest. The pictures of the injured. The numbers of the dead. The rising numbers of those wounded. But, what remains with me tonight is the horror, the grace, and the fantasic technology that shaped our awareness of it. I got first hand information off the AP before CNN had it posted via a news editor friend I've never seen; she's a fiber friend from Twitter. Another friend tried to comfort me with texts about the bomb squads that were sent into the area. Instead, I quickly saw the ever widening scope of tragedy. Other friends from long ago contacted me on facebook to tell me they were praying for my family and my sister's family. Amazing.
I felt more touched by this than I have some of our nation's other tragedies. Yes, my sister and family, and uncle and aunt were there. But, in a strange way, so was I. I guided them through the streets. I saw my brother-in-law through each curve and hill. I was at the finish line when my sister couldn't make it.
This tragedy will again have far reaching results. How do we provide security in large sporting events? Will fear and/or costs keep them from taking place? Will my niece feel secure in going to school tomorrow? In having her father run another race?
As they wound through the streets and avenues in Boston, my brother-in-law told his daughter: "We won't let the terrorists win."
We won't, indeed.