Monday, September 9, 2013

Marathon Monday Memories

Good luck today to all the Boston Marathon qualifiers who get to register for next year's marathon. I heard the BAA opened up 9,000 more spots in the field to accommodate all the 2013 runners who never got the chance to finish because of the bombing. The BAA is truly a class organization.

On April 15, 2013 I was at mile 21 of the Boston Marathon with my best friend Jan, another friend named Sue, Jan's young daughters, my little son and my dog. I had considered taking us down to the finish line because that's where all the action's at but decided it would be too chaotic with so many little kids. Who knew this would be the best decision I could have made in my life for all of us. Otherwise, I might not have been here to write about the day. I shudder to think about that.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we had so much fun cheering on the runners. I had several friends running it this year and I was there to support them, as they did me when I ran in 2011. I love love love the Boston Marathon. Just such a magical experience every year for me.

We paid no attention to the police cars that zoomed past us, sirens blaring. I just assumed someone had fallen or passed out. That happens. I mean hey, running a marathon is hard work!

 It wasn't until we had left the course and gone for lunch that we saw the news: Two bombs had gone off at the finish line at the Boston Marathon and there were dozens of injuries. More tragically, there were three fatalities, one of whom was an 8 year old boy. How heartbreaking. And scary.

Since I posted on my Facebook status that I was going to be at the Boston Marathon cheering on friends, my phone now started going off like mad. Everyone I knew wanted to make sure we were okay. My brother Chris had some scary news though. His daughter (my niece) Kirsten was at the finish line and no one could get in touch with her. I was now sick to my stomach.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, cell phone service was turned off to ensure that another IED couldn't be detonated. However you could still text. So I was the one family member to get in touch with Kirsten, thank goodness. I told her to call her dad and brother. I then start calling friends and check in on Facebook to let others know that we're okay. It takes several hours but thankfully everyone I know checks in. They are shaken but safe.

As a mom with three little kids in tow, I knew I had to get everyone home to safety. Bridges in and out of the city were closed (no one knew what we were dealing with) and so my friend Sue had to come to my house as she couldn't get back to hers. Fine with me. The more the merrier. We cooked dinner, ate ice cream and waited for the MBTA to open up so Sue could go home.

That night and in the days that followed, I watched a ton of news coverage regarding the bombing. They didn't know who had done it and for several days residents of metro Boston lived in fear that there would be another bombing. I was afraid that I'd walk past a garbage can during the work day and watch it blow up in my face. Everyone was really scared.

When Jeff Baumann woke up from his coma and ID'd the guy who dropped a backpack at his feet, everything started happening very quickly. Next thing you know, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev have killed an MIT cop, car jacked a guy on Memorial Drive and threatened to kill him too. Officer Dic Donohue is shot and critically injured. The police then shoot and kill Tamerlan but Dzhokhar goes on the run.

I watch all this on TV and I know I shouldn't be doing this in front of my 5 year old but I can't help it. I am completely freaked out and need to know right NOW what is going on. I can't wait till Christopher goes to bed. I need real time information to make the decisions that will keep us safe.

On Friday morning, Tamerlan is dead but Dzhokhar is still missing. Governor Patrick closes Boston and tells everyone to stay home. But my company made me go into the office. Crazy but just bad timing. We have a vendor visiting and have very real deadlines to meet. So I update my Facebook status to say I'm going into Boston, so that people know where I am, just in case. As I drive to drop Christopher off at pre-school, I'm listening to NPR the entire way so I know if I'm driving into danger or not. Christopher asks me questions like, why do people kill police officers? Do they want to kill us too? I have no answers for him. I dropped him off, hugged him extra tightly and left for work.

Work was emotionally rough that day. At noon I get a call from pre-school saying they are closing for the day. I high tail it out of Boston and go pick up the kid. We spend the rest of the day locked in our house.

That night more craziness unfolds on the news as Dzhokhar is found hiding in someone's backyard in Watertown. The world is watching live as Dzhokhar is captured safely and transported to the hospital.  Boston is finally out of danger. We can now start to try to make sense out of all this. Although several months later, I really still can't. I probably never will. What makes a kid from Cambridge decide one day that he's going to go blow up small children? Sigh...RIP little Martin Richard.

While all this is going on, Christopher is still a traumatized ex-foster kid who is at this point, dealing with the fact that his therapist is leaving her practice. He HATES transitions and is acting out. On top of that, now won't sleep alone in his own bed because he's afraid of terrorists. He's afraid to leave my side and asks me a lot of questions I just don't have the answer to.

A Facebook friend posted photos he found on the Internet of the two bombings. It appears that someone got hold of the security camera footage from outside Marathon Sports and posted it to Twitter. Like an idiot I click on the link and see some really graphic photos; images I wish I had not seen. I didn't sleep at all that night.

I was completely stressed out, needed sleep and I was all alone here with my kid to take care of things myself. It wasn't easy. But compared to the folks who were at the finish line that day, I had it pretty easy. I really should stop complaining.

Fast forward, Boston is healing slowly but surely. On Facebook, I follow Jeff Bauman, the Norden Brothers and Heather Abbott, three victims of the Marathon Bombing who lost five legs between them. I also saw the picture of little Jane Richard sporting her new prosthetic leg (here). I have to say each one of these people is amazing and if anybody exemplifies Boston Strong, it's these courageous individuals.

So good luck to my friends who get to register today for the 2014 Boston Marathon. I guarantee you we will be out there cheering you on as I have done every year prior. We are after all...Boston Strong.

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