A Blue Bead for Boston

beaded necklace with all colorsMany years ago, so many that I can’t recall the name of the book or the author, I read about a method for seeing the pattern of your life from a grander perspective.  The idea is a simple one:  at the end of each day, imagine that you are stringing a colored glass bead onto a ribbon.  The ribbon is your life, stretching all the way back to the knot that was tied the day you were born.  The color of the bead represents how you felt on that one particular day.  A red bead for an angry day, when you spent your time feeling put out and put upon.  A green bead for the day when you were growing, when you could feel yourself becoming greater.  A blue bead for a day touched with sadness, a day when your heart was laid open to the world.  A gold bead for the perfectly balanced day, when your heart was blessed with joy and peace.

Once you have chosen a bead for the day and added it to the ribbon, you can look back to see the pattern they create.  I could look back and see the stretches of blue when Richard died that lightened into green when my life became whole again.  I could see how few red days are behind me, but how sharply they shout out for attention.  I could feel grateful for the gold days scattered here and there and there.  

Yesterday would have been a blue day.  A blue bead for Boston.

My boot camp coaches, April and Natalie, who finished yesterday’s race in 3:57, just minutes before the bombs exploded, have been robbed of their gold beads.  Their achievement should hold nothing but joy, but it will forever be darkened by violence.  There’s a boy in Boston who should have had a green day, after watching his dad finish something tough, but now the boy is dead and his father is left with a red bead, a blue bead, and many days before he will reach for a gold bead again.  How many people will mark April 15, 2013 as the first day they spent in a wheelchair?  Red and blue, red and blue; when will green return?

Today is also the anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.  Another of my former coaches, Stephanie, ran the Boston Marathon a year ago in memory of the 32 people murdered at Virginia Tech.  Her brother, Jamie Bishop, died there.  If I think about that tragedy too long, I reach for a red bead instead of blue.  Especially after Newtown.

So at the end of this day, pick a bead.  There will be blue days.  There will be red days.  But there are so many green days.  And just enough gold to make it all worthwhile.

Thank you to April, Natalie and Stephanie for all of the green days you have coached me through.  For the gold days when I finished a race that I never thought I would have the courage to start.

21 thoughts on “A Blue Bead for Boston

  1. Tina

    Thank you. I read your blog each day… it often touches my heart and resonates strongly with me. This post is no different… but today I feel compelled to share that you are, oddly enough, familiar as well as an inspiration. You seem to handle all the yuck and the joy with aplomb and grace. You seem to have the “magic words” that are rare so often. So, on this blue bead and red bead day… thank you. You are often, for us, a green bead and often you are golden 🙂

  2. Chris

    After being so touched by your words as a human being, I also have to comment as a writer (sorry for changing the mood) NOW THEM IS SOME DAMNED GOOD METAPHORS. xo You need to send that to the Boston Sun, or maybe to the Sun magazine. That’s not about you alone now, Ashley. It’s about all of us. Beautifully done.

  3. Annette Mitchell

    Ashley – you are doing a great job – keep it up. I finally have a new computer so now I can follow you daily.

  4. Bryn Adamson

    Another lovely collection of words, Ashley. And you string them together so well. I too thought of Stephanie yesterday, and all my darling friends who happened to be at the theater on that beautiful day almost four years ago.
    I am a gold bead girl…give me sparkly and joyful all the day long, everyday. I’m not sure how to handle the blue ones, so I think maybe I just dip them in a little gold paint. It works for me….and it’s okay if the gold chips off a little.

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