I stood at the finish line for three years straight – every year I was in college, but last.
I was in Toronto for the 2013 Boston Marathon for job interviews. I wasn’t there for the bombing. I was a Canadian living in Boston but that day has had a profound effect on me – on us all. I felt what it was like to be a part of a tragedy. I didn’t know anyone who lost their lives or lost their limbs but I felt like I knew them. I ache for their families and loved ones and cannot understand how such terrible things happen to such good people. It still seems unbelievable to me. That day has forever changed the city. It was horrible. It was really unexplainable. But that city united. That city is united. And I will forever feel a part of Boston Strong.
I flew back to Boston the day of the man-hunt. I didn’t know if my flight would arrive or how I would get to my apartment but that’s when my flight was, so I went to the airport, got on the plane and flew. I landed in Boston minutes before the taxi ban was lifted. I was in the only car on Storrow Drive driving back to my apartment near Copley Square – the marathon finish line. It was a very eerie feeling. I remember it being a beautiful sunny day and the flowers were abloom on Beacon Street. I remember thinking how such beauty can be so quickly clouded by such terrible things.
I lived four blocks from the bombing site. I lived alone. The city was on lock-down. I was scared. I made a bowl of oatmeal and sat on my couch and watched CNN. I watched Anderson Cooper on the television – knowing that he was reporting three blocks away from my apartment was very weird.
I was glued to my TV. I remember arguing with my boyfriend at the time because he insisted on coming over. “But the lockdown! You can’t leave.” He didn’t listen but I have to admit – I’m glad he came over. I remember even going for a walk down the street just to get some air. There were military personnel everywhere and blockades and reporters and camera crews. It was almost surreal: days ago I was walking to Trader Joe’s, going for a run, going to lunch on Newbury and now this. Now this tragedy.
It was one of the longest days of my life – we all know how the day ended. I remember being haunted by seeing boats parked in driveways for months afterwards.
It took awhile for the city to “go back to normal”. Whatever that means. When Boylston Street re-opened, I went for a walk. I stood at the bomb site. And I cried. A lot. I can’t describe all of my feelings – I just couldn’t believe it happened. Here. In Boston. At the marathon.
I looked forward to Marathon Monday every year. Freshman year, I walked around trying to find the best place to watch. Cheering and jumping every-time a runner came through. I remember being in awe. I had never seen a marathon before. I couldn’t believe these amazing runners just ran twenty.six.point.two.miles. I remember thinking how I want to do that one day. My friend even put me on his back so I could see better. Sophomore year, I woke up extra early so I could get a spot at the finish line – in the front so I could see. Junior year, I saw the first place finishers come through and walked along Boylston and Newbury Street (it was too hot to stand in one place). Senior year, even though I was not there, I will always remember.
I love Boston. I am proud to have called it my home for four amazing years. Boston will always have a very special place in my heart and today I am thinking of all of those who lost their loved ones last year. I am thinking of those whose lives are forever changed by those events. I am thinking of the runners, spectators, paramedics, security personnel, volunteers, families, friends, loved ones, Bostonians – everyone. I know this year’s marathon will be a special one. I wish I was there but I can feel the strength of the city.
Today, I am going for a run. No it’s not 26.2 miles. But it’s a run. It’s a run for Boston.
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