Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boston Marathon Bombing - One Year Later

April 15, 2013 is a day that I may never forget. I can't remember many details of the day...up until 3:00pm. That is when I received the text from my husband that two bombs had gone off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I remember exactly where I was. I was walking the track at the elementary school near my house. I had just started my second lap. My initial reaction...I didn't even know what to think. But then I got a text from my friend in PA asking if I was ok. See, I work in downtown Boston, but my office isn't anywhere near where the marathon is run. (The Marathon is run every year on Patriot's Day, a holiday which marks the start of the Revolutionary War. Only Massachusetts and Maine observe the holiday.)

As I came around the end of the track, near the entrance, there was a gentleman just arriving and he paused to answer his phone. Based on body language and the little bit I heard, I knew exactly what the call was about. It was then that I realized that I should probably call my mother because she tends to worry, as mothers do. She was surprisingly calm. She apparently remembered that I did not work that day and didn't think that we'd gone in for the Sox game. (The Red Sox always play at 11:00 a.m. on Patriot's Day and the game usually ends in time so you can get down to Boylston Street to watch the early runners finish.)

As soon as I got home, I turned on the TV. I was still talking to my Mom for a bit, but then both my house phone and my cell phone started blowing up. My sister was frantically trying to call (she lives in IL) because my brother-in-law had seen the breaking news. My mother-in-law in NJ called because she'd gotten a call from my husband's step-brother asking if we were ok. I logged into Facebook and had a few messages there too. I immediately posted that we were ok and that we weren't in Boston. I was overwhelmed by it all. I sat down to watch the news coverage and the damn broke. The tears came and I couldn't stop them. All I could think was, "how could someone do this?"

That night, I posted on Facebook:

Tomorrow, my alarm will go off at 5:15am and I will get up, shower and get dressed. I will get on a train and I will ride into Boston as I do every day for work. But this will not be like any other day. I can not even imagine how I will feel. I do know that I will be thinking of all those injured, those killed and all of those who have been touched by this tragedy. But I will go on because that is what we do. We go on. We never forget. We never give up. We fight on!

And I did!  I got up the next day and I got ready for work.  I got on the train and made my way into Boston.  And during my lunch hour, I went for a walk, like I do most days.  It was different, but it was still my city.  I saw more law enforcement personnel than I'd ever seen before in one place.  All along the route, there were local and state police, S.W.A.T. officers, uniformed men with canines, military personnel, even Homeland Security.  The city was on high alert and leaving no stone unturned in their search for these cowards.

I wondered if this was our new normal.  I wondered who could have done something so evil.  And I know I wasn't the only one wondering.  The news was consumed by this story.  And then they released the surveillance videos of the suspects, and we began to hope that the end was in sight.

And then I woke up for work on the morning of Friday, April 19.  It seemed that all hell had broken loose overnight.  An MIT police officer was dead.  Shot by these cowards.  A transit officer was fighting for his life.  (Despite a significant blood loss, Dick Donahue survived!!)  One of the scumbags was also dead.  But the other was still on the loose, and a new search was underway.

By 6am, my cell phone was starting to buzz with activity again.  The MBTA had shut down service.  No trains in or out of Boston.   Coworkers asking what I was going to do.  If I was going to go to work.  (I have a bit of a reputation.  I don't call in sick.  I don't take unplanned absences from work, so everyone was turning to me to see what I was doing.)   The trains weren't running and parts of the city were in lockdown.  I was not going in.  Then we received the official word that the office was closed.

This time, I immediately posted on Facebook that I wasn't going in to work that day.  My mother-in-law did call because my sister-in-law had texted her to ask if she'd heard from us.  At that point, my mother-in-law had no idea what was happening as she had just woken up.

Watertown, Massachusetts was now the focus of national attention.  The authorities were pretty sure that scumbag #2 was hiding out somewhere in Watertown, a Boston suburb, and they ordered residents to "shelter in place".  I spent much of the day watching the coverage.  Although I did have to take a break at one point and watched a DVD, I continued to follow on Facebook.  (I have a friend who lives in Watertown, so I was trying to maintain some contact with her throughout the day.  She was safe, but tired of being caged in.)

Around dinnertime, they decided the area residents had been held hostage long enough and they lifted the "lockdown" order.  The residents of Watertown and the surrounding towns were allowed out of their homes but they were advised to remain vigilant and keep their eyes open.  And they did!  It seemed like it was just a matter of minutes before we heard that there was a break, that scumbag #2 was injured and hiding in a boat in someone's backyard.  I still remember the aeriel coverage from the helicopters from the local news stations flying overhead.

The terror was over!  As they pulled him out of the boat and carted him off to the hospital, the streets of Watertown filled with residents cheering and celebrating.  And as I sat at home watching it all unfold on television, I felt some of the same jubilation.  I felt like we could finally breathe again.

There are so many amazing stories of survival out there and I hope you'll take a minute to read one or watch one of the specials that are going to be on television today.  It was a terrifying time to be in Boston, one year ago this week, but it was also an empowering and uplifting time because the city of Boston, all of Massachusetts actually, came together to not let the cowards win!  And we continue to help support the survivors of this tragedy.

We have shown the world that we are and always will be:

Many of the 264 injured continue to struggle every day.  Their lives will never be the same.  They are not able to return to work and the medical bills are never-ending.  The One Fund was established to help those effected by the Boston Marathon bombing.  If you would like to make a donation, the website is: http://www.onefundboston.org/


For this week only, author T.K. Leigh has decided to donate 100% of her sales to The One Fund.  So get yourself  a book and make a donation at the same time.  https://www.facebook.com/tkleighauthor

1 comment:

  1. what a beautiful post Raquel. It's one of those days in history where we'll always remember where we were, what we were doing when we got word.