I think about my response to the whole situation often. My response, in comparison to all the stories of heroism that arose in the weeks and months after, was rather anticlimactic. I just stood there. I didn't know what to do. My whole body trembled in shock. I remember thinking that I wanted to do something and wondered if I should also run into that smoke to help, but my more logical side took over (always does), and I reminded myself that I didn't have any kind of medical training. What could I do?
I feel a deep connection to that mysterious runner and think about him often. He must have been in shock too. When he asked, I didn't think twice about helping him locate the finisher medals. That was my job. Despite the chaos around us, his question didn't strike me as unusual. Both his request and my response seemed so ordinary.
I didn't want to leave my assigned post, but I didn't know what I could do. I kept thinking that the marathon would resume after all the chaos was cleaned up. What about all those runners who couldn't finish the marathon? What would happen to them? My co-volunteer was my voice of reason. He told me to get down from the lifeguard chair. He grabbed my arm and yanked me back from the middle of the intersection. He said he was leaving, that as far as he was concerned, the marathon was over. He was right. It was over. This wasn't getting cleaned up anytime soon.
It's two years later, and we are still waiting for closure. There wasn't a day that went by between the bombings in 2013 and race day in 2014 that I didn't think about the Boston Marathon. The race in 2014 was ideal. The weather was beautiful and the race went off without a hitch. Meb Keflezighi, an American, won the men's field for the first time in thirty-one years. The race just so happened to fall on the day after Easter. It really seemed like a true rebirth and revival, that maybe Boston could finally move on. I thought I had found closure.
Now another year has passed and we're waiting to see what the outcome of the trial will be. The trial was inevitable, as were the resurfacing of witness' accounts of that day, wounds that are very much still healing. I want to say that after we know the jury's decision we'll have closure, but I don't know. I don't know that any of us will ever have the answers we want for this tragedy. I spent much of the time before the one year anniversary craving distance. I wanted it to be years later, for those memories to begin to fade. There's a conflict that exists between fading memories and forgetting. How could we ever forget something like this? And should we? I no longer think of the marathon each day, but when I do, those images are just as vivid as they were in real time. That will probably never go away, and maybe it shouldn't. There may be something to living with this pain, to allowing it to shape me, and remind me of the one consistent thing I've felt in the days, weeks, months, and now years after—Boston is home, and the community here is strong.