Three years since our world blew up, three years since the smoke cleared, three years since we were left to pick up the pieces and figure out how to go on. Time--’the physician that heals every grief’ -- is doing its work by easing the visceral public pain. And our hearts are mended, but not yet whole. As we recall what happened for this third time, I wonder if the Boston Marathon will ever be just a race again?

Likely not. The city is forever linked to the bombing. Every third Monday in April is no longer an observance of Patriot’s Day and the shot heard around the world. Just as New York city is permanently linked to one of the world’s worst terrorist attacks. Our story, too, moving to the archives of yesterday. These histories will draw curious tourists as years pass, even as our poignant memories fade from bright colors to sepia tones.

Marathon runners this year will make their final push under a Back Bay overpass painted with the blue and yellow Boston Strong logo.  A new silent tribute where once screams rang in the air.  And other new traditions like One Boston offer a respectful nod to the past tragedy, but look forward with a mission anchored in doing good work today.

This past Friday, the actual anniversary of the bombing, Old South Church was once again a gathering place for bombing survivors, families, and community supporters.  The church, just steps away from the marathon finish line, became a place of healing. The survivors initially asked church leaders for a service that allowed them to “rage and cry.” But this year, the church’s Senior Minister noted that they had moved from the grip of devastating loss. Reverend Nancy Taylor said the survivors were “ready for a service that focused on hope.”

I think our communal healing also mirrors that emotional shift. Less a determination not to forget, as much as an embrace of positive remembrance. Grief has no expiration date, I know. So I expect it’ll take a lot longer before we stop counting the years since the explosion at the finish line. But it’s worth noting on this third anniversary we’re in a better place.