It’s happened again.
I get the same feeling when there’s a disaster. I first felt it on Sept. 11, but it’s happened several times since: the movie theater shooting in Colorado, the grade school shooting in Connecticut. Now it’s a bombing in Boston, only this time it’s worse.
A week before I wrote this, two explosions went off in Boston. Three people were killed and about 170 wounded, some severely.
What I feel is helpless. What is a citizen to do when their country has been attacked? Intellectually, I understand the disbelief, followed quickly by the outrage. I get my fill of news and horrific images and shake my head in confusion.
And then I go back to my life. The people killed are so far away, the city streets disrupted aren’t my own. I don’t know the people killed or hurt. I have sympathy and anger, but it usually feels sort of removed.
What’s different for me this year is the face of Martin Richards, the adorable little boy who was killed. He was 8; my daughter is 10. Every time I see those photos of his smile, or of the heart-wrenching poster he made asking for us all to stop hurting each other, I see Kenna. And I want to hold her a little closer, hug her a little longer. It was pretty hard to send her off sailing in the Miami Key Largo race on a recent Saturday, storm clouds brewing. How dearly I felt I would never see her again.
But what could I do? We have to live our lives, go to the grocery store, go to school, compete in races. What could I do?
What could I do about the bombings in Boston? I can’t even show my solidarity by signing up for next year’s race. I could never make the qualifying times.
But Capt. Grant Maughan can. He did, in fact.
Maughan has been an ultra runner the past few years, running everything from marathons to seven-day, 160-mile races through the desert. He had completed the Boston Marathon on April 15 in 3 hours, 14 minutes, and then waited near the finish for a friend.
Then the bombs exploded.
“I actually jumped, it was so loud, but then felt a bit foolish as I thought it was a celebration canon or something,” he wrote in an e-mail soon after. “I looked around and saw a bunch of other people wide-eyed as well. Then the second one went off. A girl next to me burst into tears and many started running.
“I walked toward the blast, still not sure what was going on and wanting to find my friend. Some other people came running from that direction and one girl screamed to get out of the city. It got very surreal after that.
“People had emptied out of shops and restaurants into the street. I walked past an open-air restaurant and all the meals were sitting there half eaten. There was a chef from one place standing on the sidewalk with a cleaver in his hand.”
Eventually, Maughan found his friend and they started walking out of the city center.
“It was like a migration to the suburbs. We walked for hours to find transport to our hotel up north. The locals really helped us when we needed directions or whatever. That was really humbling.”
He felt a little awkward telling me he’d achieved a personal best for the race and qualified for next year. But being a yacht captain, he’s not sure where he’ll be next spring and if he can make it. So he came back to South Florida, still a little numb, and went for a run, from the boat at Rybovich to Jupiter and back. About 26.2 miles, another marathon.
And on Monday, April 21, a week after three people died from those bombings, he ran 52.4 miles out near Lake Okeechobee. That makes three more marathons, one for each of those who died in Boston.
He ran on Tuesday as part of an organized group of runners all over the world “giving foot time” to raise money for the Richards family. Martin’s sister lost a leg in the explosions and his mom had brain surgery from her injuries.
I can’t run a marathon, but I guess I’m doing my part by writing about their efforts and donating to the cause (http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/EnduranceTrust/westandunitedwerununited), but it doesn’t feel like enough.
All I really want to do is hug my daughter.
Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.