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2013 was an emotional rescue for Boston

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  December 31, 2013 08:25 AM

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In the same way we classify New Year’s Eve as “amateur hour,” I feel the same way about retrospective lists chronicling 12 months of celebration and hardship. After all, what’s in a year, right?

Wednesday will feel like Tuesday, and Tuesday feels like July 17. It’s not like there’s some instant transformation that takes place at 12:01.

I mean, I get it, New Year’s is like a birthday of sorts, a chance to pump your fists at the gods that you made it another 365. It is the clichéd chance of renewal, even if you’re the same damn person you were, and intend to be, seconds earlier. You show me a full gym open at midnight, and I’ll show you the cigarette butts of those who were quitting the moment the clock struck.

That being said ... I don’t know how to feel about 2013.

On a personal level, it was a trying year. My wife lost her mother, my children, their Mimi. In the midst of it all, we had a beautiful daughter, who got to meet her grandmother on one fleeting afternoon in March before she passed. It wasn’t an emotional roller coaster as much as an emotional stock market.

On a professional level, it was the same, but I really had no idea.

I was at the finish line when the bombs went off, having just penned a piece that would never see the light of open eyes, detailing the triumph of those crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It is, indeed, one of my favorite annual assignments, speaking to these people who have just done what I never could, will, or want to, and sharing for just a moment the pride and accomplishment that will matriculate. Once they puke.

As is always the case, once my work was done, I made my way back to finish line, just to bask in the glow of other peoples’ glory. There’s something to be said for standing there while you watch people realize their dreams accomplished. It is sports personified. If it’s not exactly why we watch, it has to be why we strive to go the distance. If it’s not why we do it to be the best, it’s why we feel compelled to summon our inner competition, proving ourselves marvels, even in the wake of finishing 5:05:34.

In November, the parade came, and for the first time since April, I made my way to Boylston Street. After the Red Sox won the World Series, I thought little of the assignment of covering the “finish line” for the Rolling Rally. After all, when the Sox won it in ’04, this was the same exact spot I watched that parade from, in my wife’s old office overlooking the UNO below. But when I got there, I saw the noticeable crowd surrounding the blue strip. I saw Forum and Marathon Sports, both open for business. I saw emotion in the faces of those who were staking their spots, an all-too evident mix that spoke to the elation and horror this block had seen in 2013.

There was also a line about 45 deep at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Not the case at Starbucks, a few steps away. And as I waited in line, I made sure to conceal the tears falling.

An hour later, the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series trophy was placed on the finish line, draped in 617, the defining moment of the sports calendar year. For everything we hated about the Red Sox in 2012, and there was plenty, there simply isn’t enough that can be said about the way that group rallied around this *&^%$# city.

Maybe that’s what I take from 2013. I want to tell it to go to hell, but there’s also so much to treasure, enough moments that we want to forget equaled by those ensconced in our brains forever.

Here’s to 2014. Here's to birthdays, celebrations, and more championship runs. Here's to love, happiness, and prosperity - monetary or not. Here's to youth, simplicity, and laughter. Here's to family, friends, and, yes, even enemies. Here's to you. Here's to Boston.

(And here's to another year of being annoyed of people calling it “Twenty fourteen.”)

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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