This was my first Boston Marathon, and heading in this wasn’t really the blog post I meant to write. It’s remarkable how quickly your perspective can shift. This is what I wrote the day of – once in the safety of our hotel – and watching non -stop coverage of the tragic events of that day: “Crazy day. So grateful all family and friends are safe. So saddened and sickened.”
At the time of the explosion (s), I was actually still within the vicinity of the finish area (2 ½ – 3 blocks away). I finished around 2 pm, spent the next 20 minutes being herded to medals and water, and trying to find my bag. It had gone from hot to cold in a matter of minutes – I was freezing, and I had finally managed to locate my clothes, find the changing tent and change into dry clothes. Now I was shoving my way to the family meeting area when I heard a loud boom. A woman and I looked at each other – “what was that?” We shrugged it off – I thought thunder, apparently that was what my sister told me later on she thought it was.
At the moment, my most pressing concern was finding my sis and her friend in the crowds – desperately searching for the letter “C” in the designated family meeting area. The noise was quickly forgotten as we found each other. It was only as we were headed to the trains, when a friends’ phone rang – her brother called asking if she was ok- and then we knew. Still we didn’t grasp the gravity of the situation, until we got back to our hotel in the north and turned on the hotel television, 5 of us glued to the TV – watching horrific image after image. Frantic text messages and emails began to come in. The phone began to ring. News stations had contacted my brother in law. What began as a day of anticipated celebration and joy was quickly replaced by horror and disbelief.
Tuesday morning, reality started to sink in. My sister left Boston Tuesday morning. I thought about trying to get an earlier flight home.
My heart was and is so heavy. It breaks for the victims, their family and friends, for race organizers, spectators – those who didn’t finish and those who did. A heaviness hung over the city. I didn’t want to sit in a hotel room alone, so I ventured out and ate lunch at a café by myself and talked to fellow runners.
I was wandering the North End by my lonesome when an older woman came up to me. Seeing my Boston jacket, she asked if I ran – and when I said yes she apologized and asked if I would come back. I couldn’t say anything.
The events that occurred the day of the Boston marathon, as they brought out the worst in some, seemed to bring out the best in others. Coffee shops refused to take my money. The day after, left to my own devices, I went to a spa to distract myself and the girl at the front refused to take my money – and apologized! I was speechless. Strangers would walk up to me, asked me if I ran. I would say yes. Beyond that, there wasn’t a whole lot that could be said. There was a lot of silence.
I am still sifting through the reality of what happened that day and so many conflicting emotions.
Beyond the shock, horror, grief, there is gratitude that my sister and her friends avoided the finish line area, grateful that most of my friends had crossed the line already and were blocks away. I was grateful I was blissfully unaware for that moment – when I heard the explosion I didn’t know what it was. I think how easily it could have been someone I loved. Timing is every thing.
And it is, after all is said and done, not discounting the sheer violence and disregard for human life, the intangible wounds that hurt the most. Whoever did this not only physical scarred and killed the victims, but devastated their family and friends, and traumatized the spectators, witnesses and dare I say runners. One account was by parents, who along with their young children, were spectators at the Boston marathon- they tried to shield their children– but in his words “they saw a lot.”
I knew Boston would be memorable, but I didn’t expect it to be so bittersweet. I look at the medal – tucked away – and my Boston jacket – and it’s hard to put into words what I feel. No pride and joy, but sorrow. Reminders that what what was intended to be a day of celebration so quickly turned into a day of horror and mourning. My memories of the Boston marathon will likely always bring mixed emotions.
I want to remember the good things about Boston, the spectators, the crowds, the race, the city and people – and I will. At the moment, all I can see are by graphic images that won’t stop replaying (Gotta love tv and social media) in my head. At the moment all I can do is mourn with those who have lost so much, and be grateful that my loved ones have made it out unscathed, so to speak.