Friday, April 10, 2015

When Heartbreak is in the Rear-View Mirror

Twenty and one-half miles (give or take a few yards) into the test of perseverance that is the Boston Marathon, rises Heartbreak Hill: 

The final hill, the legendary Heartbreak, 
begins after the shops at Center Street
and rises a half-mile to Hammond Street.  
In itself, the incline is merely challenging; but after 20 1/2 miles, 
the effort becomes the toughest stretch on the course.  
Once at the summit, however, the Prudential Tower comes into view,
the BC band may be playing and a half-mile of downhill lies ahead

On Sunday, April 21, 2013, those of us who were participating in that year's edition of the Unite Half-Marathon at Rutgers University assembled in the starting area of our race and sang "Sweet Caroline" in tribute to the people of Boston.  A lot of us, including Yours truly, wore signs on our race shirts expressing the solidarity we felt with them. 

Six days earlier, terror had engulfed the Marathon.  Hundreds were injured.  And as a result of what happened on that Patriots Day afternoon, four innocents were killed.  Eight-year-old Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu died in the blasts.  Officer Sean Collier of the MIT Police Department, a rookie, was murdered on April 18th by the same two cowards who had detonated the bombs near the finish line on Boylston Street three days earlier.

Earlier this week, the jury in the matter of United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  returned guilty verdicts on all thirty counts with which Tsarnaev had been charged.  The same jury shall now consider whether he shall be put to death for what he did or sentenced to spend the remainder of his life incarcerated.  It is a task that they shall commence work on next week.  Unanimity among the jurors is required to impose the death penalty.  

I would not pretend to know whether the jury's pronouncement of guilt afforded any semblance of peace to the families directly affected by the murderous cowardice of this little prick and his equally despicable older brother.  Nor would I pretend to know whether the punishment the jury shall now be called upon to mete out, whichever punishment it deems appropriate, shall provide even a small sip of solace to them.  

I have little doubt that too many times to count the father of eight-year-old Martin Richard has contemplated over these past two years doing what I would have contemplated doing had I been in his shoes, which is ask for one uninterrupted session of "alone time" with this perpetrator in a 10 x 10 room.  Short of that, I know not what can be done to him that comes anywhere near approximating what he has done.  And, candidly, while I know not whether the visceral satisfaction of beating him to death bare-handed would do so either I suspect that once the adrenaline rush has subsided, it would not.  

If peace is to be found anywhere, for any of the families, then perhaps it shall be found in very place they had intended to find it on that Monday afternoon two years ago.  On a strip of macadam across Boylston Street, which is painted bright yellow.  Its color is a signal to those in search of the magical elixir contained within it that they have indeed found that for which they had searched.  Their long, arduous journey has been completed.    

Experience suggests to me that those affected by what happened that day have not yet made it, spiritually or emotionally, to Boylston Street.  This week, however, they crested Heartbreak Hill.  There remains ahead of them a bit more ground to cover.  They shall make it.  They shall make it because not covering it is not an option.  

It never has been...


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