In grieving over the Boston Marathon tragedy, I have been thinking about my own connection to the race.
I "ran" the marathon once and can still feel the thrill of being there. The word "ran" is in parentheses because I only ran four miles, although I did cross the finish line. No, I was not doing a Rosie Ruiz thing, sneaking in part-way and pretending to have run the whole race. My friend Diane, who was actually running the marathon, asked me to do what many runners ask their less ambitious runner friends to do: jump in near the end and run with her for support.
Sharing her excitement, I dropped her off in Hopkinton, where the race starts, and then drove into Boston. Diane told me just about where to find her at just about what time, and, sure enough, along she came just when she said she would. Later I realized that she just wanted me to run, but I thought I should cheer her on, so I said things like, "You're doing great," "You're almost there," etc. I think I was annoying her. "I can't really talk now," she said. I ran the rest of the way in silence. We crossed the finish line and someone put a mylar sheath on top of me. I tried to protest, but the volunteer was on to the next person before I could get the words out.
I went into Boston on another Patriot's day when my mood contrasted starkly with the excitement I had felt on that other Patriot's Day years before cancer. It was after my second transplant, and I was sick as a dog (why do they say that?) with a fever and the feeling that I could hardly move. A friend drove me to the clinic at Dana-Farber. Melissa told me that I needed to be admitted. I had nothing with me, and my valiant chauffeur went to my sister Diane's house and picked up a few things to wear – comfortable yoga pants and T-shirts so that I wouldn't be stuck in hospital johnnies.
I got put in a hospital room where the window faced a brick wall. The darkness fit my mood. DeAngelo came in and said I hadn't relapsed again, but my bone marrow was almost empty. It was my introduction to "graft failure." The donor cells had moved out. They would have to address the cause of my fever first. Then I would have more chemotherapy and another bone marrow transplant.
Two different Patriot's Days. A light and a dark. And now another dark.
Judging from the way Bostonians have pulled together, the light will not be snuffed out.
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