Tuesday 6:37 AM
Wave after wave crashes upon the shore, then fades to a feeble foam that vanishes in the endless sand. Winds bluster and gust, only to be followed by quiet interludes of silence and stillness. Seasons change, each with charm and fascination, each with reason to anticipate the next turn. We make pictures in this life of what we treasure and scorn. Many images are fleeting; some are played out on Facebook or briefly discussed in a tweet.
The Boston Marathon bombings are now added to the terrible list of markers in our lives. A marathon in some ways is the ultimate expression of life. It takes enoromous effort and perseverence over a long period of time just get ready for the event. This time, minds that know only midnight shattered the lives of people who moments before were savoring their lives. And, despite the horror around them, some participants ran some more... to the hospital to donate blood.
Picture by minimalistrunningshoes.org
I wrote the story that follows two days after the attacks of 9-11 of 2001. Today, the first reference to age would be changed to "those in their 30s and up." And, I guess you have to be at least 18 or 19 to remember the event that triggered what I discuss in most of this piece.
Sometimes a thing happens that we remember forever. Those in their 20's and up will long recall where they were when they first heard about Challenger. They know there were seven, but they remember a teacher launched into eternity. For my generation, that indelible memory is of where we were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on the streets of Dallas.
But this horror overwhelms them all. The early explosions and collapses, the chaos in the streets, the impossibility of understanding the minds of those who could do this. And then the heart rending procession of those clinging to hope, each story unique, each one causing its torrent of tears. The horrible feeling of knowing how so many chapters will end in the eternal midnight of the tomb. How small are our efforts in the face of monstrosity. We observe minutes of silence, but it is but a speck of dust in the eternity of silence surrounding those lost. Just as mists at the shore hide rocks that imperil the sailor, the yellowed edges of time will blunt the sharp thorns of these days. The image will always be etched deep, but less of the frame will remain.
For all of us, the time before 8:46 Tuesday morning was part of an age of innocence. Like being 12 years old on Saturday morning and the world belongs to only you. Like the spring flowers before summer drought and insects have taken their toll ... a freshly lined baseball field before tags and slides have smeared the playing surface ... like holiday gifts before the bills come in. Never mind the rocks and boulders in our relationships that seem like tiny grains of sand right now. We remember people who loved us as we loved them. Some challenged us to make something of ourselves and our world, to do something that made a difference for our lives and the lives we touched. Some were just there when we needed them.
Sure, we will go on. And as in most times, we will both succeed and fail. The bright star of opportunity shines still, but the bitterness of what happened is like a taste that will only slowly fade away. We are overloaded with sadness and anger. As we watch and listen to replays of what happened in times to come, the words, images and thoughts of the loved ones we cherished will have a new freshness. Yet we are all torn by a sense of loss. But to the extent we are able, it is time for each and every one of us to reach beyond our easy grasp... to go for things we thought unattainable. Some messages transcend time; they work regardless of the age, if only we would seize upon them. They are things our loved ones would have shared with us, if only they were here to say so themselves. Wave after wave crashes upon the shore, then fades to a feeble foam and vanishes in the endless sand. But there will be another wave and then another. We can allow ourselves to be swept under or seek instead to reach for the next crest with exhilaration and zest for life. We can dedicate ourselves to help make things better for those living now and in the future. Let this be a living memorial for those who were torn from us, and who we so fervently wish could join us now as we continue through life's journey.
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Thunderstorms will develop this afternoon from the Ohio Valley into the interior Northeast.