Where tribute took me…
Ten years ago, I was in a small village called Alhama de Granada in the south of Spain, shooting the teaser for a TV project I was developing called Canciones Rurales.
In the midst of production, we received word that bombs had gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon (6 hours earlier than our time zone).
The official race clock showed 04:09:43, meaning most of the remaining field to finish the race were the average-paced to slower runners, like me.
It was a shock, a tragedy on the most basic level of human trust.
I had a special affinity for this type of sports event. My partner and I organize an ultra race event that has brought hundreds of people together over the years for positive life-changing experiences.
And… I was going to run the Madrid marathon two weeks later.
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I am not a fast runner.
But I love the running community. The gathering of thousands of people at one place to shut down traffic and run together though a city.
Marathons are individualistic by design. Runners may be racing the clock to beat their best time or running for personal reasons.
But we are all there to cross the finish line.
The Madrid marathon began with a minute of silence to honor the victims of Boston.
It weighed heavily upon us. 13,000 silent runners.
In this long minute, I contemplated the lack of humanity one needs to terrorize people peacefully pushing themselves to fulfill their goals alongside thousands of others doing the same.
I was angry.
I decided to dedicate my run to the innocent runners and bystanders who were maimed and traumatized by the explosions two weeks earlier.
The Madrid race organizers replaced the sound of a start pistol with a verbal cue to avoid any confusion with the sound of a bomb going off.
Then we were running against the wind.
I had not trained properly for this race. I had been prepping and shooting the film up until the week when I should have been tapering off my mileage…
If I had been training.
While my tribute to the victims of Boston was spiriting me on for the first 15km, the physical and mental reality of my unpreparedness was beginning to show.
Grief was not my fuel.
I think some people use grief as energy. I, however, began to lose sight of the goal, like running through molasses. I looked at my watch and saw I could still make the full marathon if I didn’t slow down, but...
I decided to pull out at the half-marathon distance.
And all I wanted to do was call my dad, who had died of cancer the year before, to tell him I couldn’t go on. He would have understood.
Then I became angry at myself.
I was not injured. I was alive. Why did I stop?
Was my intention to honor the victims pure?
Why didn’t I train if I wanted to see it through?
Why couldn’t I put mind over matter and just get it done?
I went back 2-years later to finally finish the Madrid marathon.
But I still think about it today on the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Peace & love to the participants of today’s race.
YOUR TURN: Where does TRIBUTE or DEDICATION take you? My story isn’t heroic, but it taught me a lesson about intention and reality. Have you made decisions or taken specific action to honor someone, something, or yourself?
Share your TRIBUTE story in 150 - 200 words (the length of my opening section more or less).
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Last Friday afternoon, an email from our small group leader, a retired pastor, arrived in our inboxes: "On Sunday, we will celebrate our 55th Wedding anniversary, and we would like for you to come and celebrate with us. Sunday Afternoon 4:30 at our place. Hamburgers, brats, and the fixin's. Yes, it's late notice, so if you can't make it, we understand... just let us know." After checking with my husband, I replied, "We look forward to celebrating with you. What would you like us to bring?" "A sweet to share," he wrote. Cake. It had to be a frosted layer cake with two, "5" candles. I pulled out my mother's recipes for chocolate cake and creamy maple-syrup frosting. Our tribute to their 55 years together. During the cookout, the couple shared "for better or worse" stories and their wedding album. Many pictured were no longer alive. We all knew he'd had a very rocky time with health issues this past winter. All the more reason to celebrate. At the end of the meal, I brought out the cake with lighted candles. We sang heartily and took pictures of what could be the last tribute.
On the night the Queen died I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the TV. I sat like a rock on the sofa, eyes hurting from too much wine and screen time, typing in the group chat.
'Go to bed.'
After a while, I realised I’d already seen that faded scene of the Queen stepping out of a carriage, and the photo of a yet-to-be-queen child in a garden. Yet I couldn’t peel myself off to bed. It was the end of an era.
The 1930s, 40s and 50s looked so far away on screen. It seemed surreal that the Queen had been walking around in HD up until recently and that my grandma, born six years later than the Queen, had only died a year ago. At the time it was a shock.
Why didn’t I ask her more? Why didn't I write down her day-to-day life in detail?
The televised tribute ended up being a loop of content. As my friend said in the group chat, 'They’ve had years to prepare for her death and this is what they come up with?'