This morning, I slipped into my running shoes, placed my headphones on and headed out for my five-miler. I usually run two to three times a week – sometimes on the treadmill, sometimes on the streets – but I always run to clear my head. I let my mind wander. I brainstorm. I plan. I daydream.
Today, however, my thoughts were with the city of Boston. Less than 24 hours ago, as runners crossed the finish line in one of the most elite races in the country, they were met with bombs rather than cheers.
I’ve yet to run a marathon, but I’ve been a runner for over 20 years. My husband has also taken to the sport, logging numerous races and hundreds and hundreds of miles.
I couldn’t help but think about my own family. Just eight months ago I took my two young sons – ages eight and five at the time – to watch their dad cross the finish line of his first marathon. We stood among fans, less than 100 yards from the finish, cheering countless runners on as they fought through cramps and blisters and sheer fatigue.
I then thought about the mom in Boston, sitting in the hospital this afternoon, who had also brought her two young children to watch dad cross the finish line yesterday. Her eight-year-old son died. Her six-year-old daughter lost a leg.
In this past year, our nation has been faced with images of horror, and as much as I try to shield my children from the news, the sheer magnitude of press coverage results in them catching wind of the stories.
They ask questions, and we do our best to answer with simple responses.
We tell them, sadly, that there are bad people in the world. We tell them they need to be aware of their surroundings. We tell them who to trust, and what to do in moments of panic and fear.
Each time these tragic, senseless events happen, I hate that some of their innocence is stolen. I hate that I need to tell them about evil.
We of course also talk about the good, the importance of prayer, the opportunities they have to help and do the right thing.
They nod their little heads, and we try to move on. Still, I know there will be more questions. This moment will be another that becomes implanted in their minds. When daddy or mommy runs the next race, I wonder if they will worry. I hope not. I hope they realize there is so much more good in this world, and that we have to keep on running.
So I dedicate my small five miles to Boston today, and to my kids. I’m also committing to do a small act of random kindness. Because I need to show my kids I’m not afraid, and I need to show them what good looks like in this world. It starts with us and the actions we take every day.
And we will pray.