Boston Bombing survivor talks about healing and moving forward

A runner's healing journey

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It was a day avid marathon runner Demi Clark will never forget. As she neared the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon, a bomb exploded nearby - turning what should have been a moment of personal triumph into a moment of national tragedy.

Yet, even after walking away with no physical scars, Clark told me when I sat down to talk about how she's moved past that dark day, that she's wistful she didn't complete this year's marathon.

"It's strange not to be there," she said about not competing in the race for the third straight year. "This has been a journey of faith over fear. For so many of us that were in Boston that day, but for me especially."

It would be hard to forget the images of her seen all over national TV, crossing the finish line as one of the two bombs exploded.

"I didn't lose a child, I didn't lose a limb," she said. "How lucky my family truly was to be able to walk off with only mental scars."

Mental scars the 38-year-old mother of two has worked hard to heal in the past two years. The one that took the longest to heal? Her survivor's guilt.

"Why not me," Clark recalled asking herself. "Why a 7-year-old little boy who was the same age as my daughter?"

But as heavy as that guilt was, she knew dwelling on why she was spared and little Martin Richards was not would only imprison her, making her powerless to move on.

"I think the ones who chose not to make it their defining moment have done the most," she said. "Because when we dwell, we really do create personal prisons. And you're free."

She credits that freedom to her spiritual journey and often spends time in the peaceful park behind her church in

Charleston that her family joined shortly after moving to low country in the spring of 2013.

"I owe a lot of that to God," she said. "We're obviously all put here for a reason, and I think mine is to inspire people in whatever I'm doing."

A calling to live an inspired life, every day, no matter what trials the day may bring, knowing, "even if I have my worst day, I need to go give to someone else and pass on that it's the best day."

Now, Clark says she can trace that calling back to that April day and what she calls her watershed moment.

"Rather than why me victim, I turn that into why me purpose," she said. "What does that mean? I just got a wake-up call to do something else."

Doing something else also means making peace with what comes next for the convicted bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

"Justice will be done no matter what," Clark said. "Whether it's on earth or above. Right now I've moved on from it - meaning I have closed it out in my heart. So anything else would keep me in jail."

Instead she chooses to focus on her future, setting the bar high for what's next.

"I think an Ironman is one thing. Doing the seven continents is another," she said.

Clark's goal of doing the seven continents means running a marathon on each one, a challenge from her daughters. With North America and Europe already crossed off the list - she's set her sights on a race in South Africa next summer.

As she continues her daily mission to run, pray and inspire, she does so knowing how to, "be thankful, to be blessed and to give to other people because the more you can give of spirit, the more you're going to receive in all things."

As for her goal of completing an Ironman, she hopes to check that off her list in Wilmington, NC this fall.

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