I was there. I should write something

I was there.

I should write something.

I was there at the start when the air was alive with energy and anticipation. I was there when runners who prepared for months nervously counted down to the start of the race.

I was there when it was a perfect day for running 26.2 miles, fueled by the energy of the volunteers and spectators lining the route. I was there when it was uplifting and exhilarating. I was there when it was a fantastic day to run the 117th Boston Marathon.

I was there when the bombs went off, a few minutes after I crossed the finish line, just a few dozen yards away. I was there when cheers of celebration and joy transformed into screams of pain and terror, as emergency personnel and volunteers protected only by their bright yellow jackets ran into the smoke and carnage as they simultaneously screamed for us to evacuate.

I was there for nearly two hours, stumbling dazed around Boston as runners and family members desperately searched for each other, comforted each other, helped each other. And I was there when all but one of our friends made contact with her family, her glazed and wet eyes foretelling the unimaginable reality to come.

I see the faces of those killed, their photos capturing random, happy moments from their short lives. I was there, in their final minutes. I wonder if they cheered for me, or caught my eye for just a moment. I try to understand why some of us are protected by guardian angels, while others are called to become angels. I question endlessly how an event to celebrate running could leave spectators without limbs. How an event to celebrate the human spirit could be a target for violence, hatred and death. I wonder how the historic Boston Marathon is now followed by the words “Bombing,” “Massacre,” and “Tragedy.”

I didn’t watch the unending hours of news. I didn’t have to. I was there, and replay that moment daily. My chest feels like it is being crushed by the combined weight of guilt, disgust, helplessness and sadness; so much sadness.

I didn’t save newspapers about the event. I didn’t attend the remembrance, memorial service, or group run I was invited to. I should have, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.

Because I’m trying the best I can to be here, not there.

But I was there, and I should write something.

Beth O’Grady
Salem, Massachusetts
April 15, 2013
Age – 52
Bib # 22399