Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston Marathon Monday - April 15, 2013

I saw a lot of things Monday that I had hoped to never witness in my life.  Someday, I will need to tell my baby that it was there, too.  I plan to tell it that even when there are people trying to hurt us, nothing can damage the community of Boston.  The community and spirit of Marathon Monday continued past the bombs as neighbors turned to visitors to offer kindness and support, as first responders did everything in their power to help those who were injured and keep the thousands of others in the vicinity safe.  Monday, we witnessed more acts of kindness and courage than acts of evil.  I am proud to be from Boston.

Dear Baby,

Your dad and I were born in Boston.  Keith lived in Middlesex county until we moved to Evanston where you will be born.  I moved away when I was 3 years old, but returned at least twice a year and always considered it to be home before returning for college and graduate school, making MA the state where I've lived more than anywhere else.  In the two years we've lived in Evanston, we've returned to Boston many times, including for the 2012 and 2013 Boston Marathons.  In 2012, we went to cheer your Uncle Alan and Auntie Caroline.  In 2013 we traveled to cheer for Auntie Laura.  Keith has run the BAA 5k three years in a row, but this year we missed our chance to register to run my (and your) first Boston 5k.

Keith and I spent the morning in Newton near the mile 18 marker with your Great Grand Papa and Pinto.  (Pinto was quite an attraction, many runners asked him for rides the rest of the way, and at least one stopped to pet him!)  We were right next to some people playing music, so we got to dance while we cheered.  Laura ran towards us grinning with her arms in the air, and we cheered with pride.  Once she had passed, we quickly packed up and then waited for a gap in the runners where we could cross the street.  We squeezed onto the green line train to head to the finish line to meet Laura.

We got off the train at Hynes, as the Copley stop was closed as is usual for the Marathon.  We pushed through the crowds towards the finish line, unsure if Laura had just crossed or if we were going to be able to see her along the final stretch.  Keith and I were one and a half blocks from the finish line when we saw the explosions.  They sounded like cannon fire, and we were momentarily confused since we didn’t expect celebratory cannons at the race.  The air filled with smoke and the street filled with screams as people ran both towards and away from the site.  I felt frozen, and Keith urged me to move.  We didn't want to leave the area without Laura.  We were able to reach Auntie Claudia who had a text from Laura saying she was stopped a half mile from the finish.  Before leaving Boylston St, we lent our phones to a few runners so they could try to reach family, but cell service was already spotty and most calls weren't going through.  We kept trying these numbers as we walked towards home, keeping an eye out for Laura.  Keith recognized her by the zebra print bow in her hair when she was corralled with hundreds of runners next to Mass Ave.  As we shared the little water, coats and blankets we had on us, residents of back bay came with sweatshrits, water, and trashbags for the shivering runners.  We waited for over an hour before the Boston Police directed the runners toward the park and we were able to get a ride home from Claudia.

This is our story, this is your story because you were there, too.  This is when I learned far too early that I am not going to be able to protect you from the evils of the world.  Being smart and responsible is not enough to keep you out of harm’s way.  We are so lucky, but others were not as fortunate.   I am very shaken by what I witnessed Monday, but I am also awed by all of the good that I saw.  I am heartbroken, but my spirit is not broken.  Many of the runners want to run again, and many spectators won't let twisted people keep them away.  I will be back on the sidelines of the marathon.

It is hard to put into words the pain I feel, to tell you about the tears and the nightmares.  But I want you to know that it is okay to be sad and scared when something bad happens.  It is part of healing.  It is also important to think of the good you see despite the evil, it is important to not let those trying to cause terror win.

For me the marathon has always been about a community coming together for support.  This support that I have felt for years as a spectator was even stronger after the bombing.  Responders rushed to assist the injured and protect those of us who were close by but unharmed.  Spectators reached out to the runners to give them water, clothing, and phones to contact loved ones.  Neighbors came out of their homes with trashbags, sweatshirts and blankets to give to the shivering runners corralled at Comm and Mass Ave.  People circled the city in their cars offering the stranded rides home.  There was a lot of fear and heartache, but very little panic.  The mood on the street was more anger and defiance.  We will not let those responsible win.  We will be back.


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