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Perfectly capturing the sentiment of so many people, the Boston Athletic Association said in their official statement Monday after the Boston Marathon explosions, “What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.” My four friends and I were planning on celebrating completing the marathon together after only two weeks of training. Instead, we ended up celebrating our good fortune: no from our group or family was harmed.

I was amazed by our luck and I was incredibly grateful that the people I cared about had been untouched by this tragedy. It is impossible to go through an experience like this without stopping to reflect. When I did so, I came away with a number of important lessons.

First, times like these bring people together and unite our communities. The number of people who reached out to everyone in our group to check in on us and make sure that we are okay was reassuring. It reminded us all about the number of people who care about our well-being and who want to help in times of need. The outreach that our friends, family, and communities provided demonstrates how acts of evil only serve to bond us together and strengthen our resolve.

Tragedies like these also serve to place everything into perspective by reminding us all of who and what is most important in our lives. It was impossible to feel anything other than blessed to have participated in Monday’s race without being harmed. It’s far too easy to imagine having run only slightly slower or faster and being in the middle of the blast instead of missing it. Imagining the anguish of those whose loved ones were injured forces us to acknowledge our blessings.

Another important lesson I took away is the need to trust the judicial system instead of blindly calling for vengeance and retribution. It is only natural to want to avenge lives lost. It is only natural to wish suffering upon those who are responsible. No amount of suffering can match that of the loved ones of those who lost their lives. It is important though that we trust the judicial process to bring those responsible to justice and to appropriately punish them for their crimes.

Being so close to tragedies like this reminds us all of life’s fragility. It forces one to acknowledge that life can change in an instant. It made me feel so much more grateful for all the blessings and fortunes that allowed me and my loved ones to escape unharmed. It forces us to step back and think about what is truly important. For all of us, it should be a reminder to count our blessings and to remember that there are always those less fortunate than us who could use our support.