Thoughts on 9/11

So many thoughts on this day …

It’s September 11th. Yes, I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit. I was in bed. My wife called to leave a message on the answering machine (remember those?). How my life has changed since then. I could sleep until 9 in those pre-fatherhood days.

It’s been 12 years and it’s still hard to believe that a group of “human beings” could devise a plan of such destruction to so many innocent lives. Same goes for what happened last April. I remember exactly where I was when those bombs went off. I was just a few blocks away, luckily with my family at the time.

Again, it’s hard to fathom how two brothers could devise a plan of such destruction to so many innocent lives on what was, until the blasts, another magic Marathon Monday.

Everything that followed the week of 9/11/01 is so vivid in my mind. The trip to France my parents and brother (they were scheduled to depart on 9/12) had to cancel. The lack of sporting events both locally and nationally. The phone calls to and from friends I hadn’t talked to in a while. The countless American flags around town (I was living in Bennington, Vt., at the time). People were so courteous to one another for months.

I’ve tried not to think about the aftermath of the Boston bombings. “How could they …” is all I can come up with. When I see a picture of the deceased Tsarnaev brother in his wrestling singlet and the smile on his face, I can’t help but wonder, “what happened?” He had such a nice smile.

But that’s as far as I go with it. I’ll never understand why someone would do such a thing, so I choose to leave it at that.

Next year’s Boston Marathon is a long way off, but it’s been on my mind recently. I feel like I need to run next April, not because it’s such a spine-tingling event but because … I just need to be there. Sure, I can be a spectator, but I want to be a part of the event’s rebuilding, so to speak.

In the weeks after 9/11, my parents went to Ground Zero. My father worked for years at the Stock Exchange and my mother often had visited him there. They said they just had to go and see the place. I wanted no part in it, and I couldn’t understand why they wanted to visit a place that had been reduced to piles of rubble and where so many people perished.

Now I understand.

Today is the day I’m able to sign up for next year’s Boston Marathon. I almost forgot about it. I was at the computer and thought, “oh yeah, might as well …”

I haven’t run that much this summer. My legs fell stale and tired and my knees are bothering me a bit. I have a lot of work to do in order to be in marathon shape. But it’s a ways off. No need for crazy mileage now.

Regardless of how my legs feel, I’m going to be at the Hopkinton starting line on 4/21/14. Running a personal-best time won’t be the reason I’ll ratchet up my training this winter.

I’m fortunate to have legs and knees in the first place. There are many innocent spectators from last April that don’t. They’re the reason I’ll be donning hats, gloves (multiple pairs), jackets (multiple layers) and Under Armour while trotting on icy streets this winter. They’re the reason why thousands of others will be doing the same thing.

I had a small connection to 9/11. Most people had at least that. But Boston is different. I’ll never forget the sound of the bombs and the endless sirens and finally being reunited with my mother and sister-in-law after finally getting out of the city last April.

I can’t imagine what it felt like to have to stop running at Mile 25. Or what it felt like to pick shrapnel out of your skin. Or to suddenly not have legs.

There are moments in our lives, unfortunately, when we remember exactly where we were when tragedy struck. Doesn’t matter how much time goes by, we always remember. Before I was born, it was when JFK was shot. Then, in a span of less than 30 years, the Space Shuttle explosion (I was a senior in high school). 9/11. Patriots Day 2013.

That’s enough for one lifetime.

I know exactly where I’ll be next April 21st. Hopkinton. I hope it’s a day to look back on for its joy. And nothing else.


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