On the day before the marathon my beautiful wife of almost 21 years wrote a Facebook post that ended up being more of a premonition than we would ever have anticipated. Here it is:
So . . . that crazy dude I married (Kevin Frick) is running the Boston Marathon tomorrow! He's crazy, but wish him luck! And he better get back here fast and in 1 piece!
She called me a crazy dude in this case. I suppose some may question the informality of "dude" between 43 year olds but that was not really the main thing that caught my attention. The crazy part caught my attention more. When she met me at Penn State she knew I had been a high school runner but she didn't see me running all the time. The most running I did was during senior year when I regularly met a former roommate who had also been a high school runner and we prepared for a 5K. Even then she thought my running was crazy (or at least something that she would not do) as she called me after midnight the morning of the only race I ran in four years to tell me that she was the Pente champion among her friends on her internship.
Crazy in this case mostly means that I am doing something she would never do and does not quite understand why anyone would. It is okay that we don't see eye to eye on running. I return the favor when it comes to skiing. So we are even.
But the part that caught most people's attention on the day after the Boston marathon was her comment to get back in one piece. Runners pull muscles. Runners get strains. Runners fall. Runners even occasionally have a broken bone or torn ligament or other malady that involves something coming apart but we don't usually think of a person in such a situation as not being in one piece.
And on the day of the race other than some muscles that were exceptionally sore during the race I avoided all the injuries one would normally anticipate.
But little did she know when she wrote it that there would truly be a risk of not coming back in one piece.
How does this relate to the tattoo and the St Sebastian story? Well, he was shot by archers. Piercing wounds. And the tattoo on my leg depicts Irene coming to his aide. Irene would have been the one to remove the arrows and attend to his wounds. I was lucky enough not to be one of the runners or spectators who needed to have wounds like that tended.
And there were not just piercing wounds from the shrapnel of the pressure cooker bomb with impaling items inside. There were also wounds that were serious enough to lead to amputations I believe the count was ten people who required some amputation. Those unfortunate individuals truly did not come back in one piece. And of course the three fatalities. Not only did those three individuals not come back in one piece, they did not come back alive at all.
We never would have guessed in advance that that would have been a risk about which to be concerned. But now I will forever associate my wife's posting in which she wished me good luck in the biggest race I ever ran with people not coming home in one piece. I am thankful that I did, but the reminder that some of the others who were there to share the joyful Patriot's Day in Boston in 2013 did not will always be there. I will forever associate the tattoo and the piercing wounds of St. Sebastian with a risk that I was able to avoid but that other runners and spectators were not. I carry the message online forever (at least according to the popular expression that points out that once something is on the internet it will always exist). I carry the tattoo which will always be on my leg. And I will carry at least a bit of associated sorrow in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind forever. It is inescapable. I don't think it will slow me down on a daily basis, but when I am alone (and sometimes that is when I am running) and I let myself be affected by the deepest parts of my psyche that I otherwise try to keep buried, it will be there and it will affect me.
Still, Sherry's wish may also have helped to protect me in some way. And, if I had been unfortunate despite her wish I am sure that she would have been the strong woman I know she is to help me and to help my boys through the experience.
I chose a scene with St. Sebastian and his rescuer (Irene) because Irene represents the many strong women I have had the opportunity to know in my life. Sherry is one--and the most important one. The one with whom I have committed to spend my life. The one with whom I have three amazing boys whom I am glad were not in harm's way. The one with whom I don't always see eye to eye on what is important and what is crazy but with whom I have a joint tolerance of and appreciation for the things each of us loves.
Some of the other strong women are those who have been training partners sine I started running again and particularly since I qualified for Boston. And they will be the subject of my next entry.