Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 2013 ~ Reflections One Year Later

There are some days that I swear I lost all of my ability to remember things during the birth of my child.  I don't know if it's true or an old wives' tale but it certainly feels true!  Sometimes I feel like I can't remember a thing.  But then there are other things I'll never forget.

If you asked me, "When did your daughter stop napping?"  I would answer, "I don't remember... but it had to be sometime after April 2013 because I know she napped on the 15th."

On April 15, 2013, my daughter was napping and I was folding towels on the living room floor.  I was savoring the peaceful house and didn't even have grown-up shows on the TV.  It was just quiet, and I remember the sun shining in the front window.  My iPhone made a sound that I recognized as my boston.com news app telling me that I had a breaking news notification.  I picked up my phone and it told me that there had been two explosions at the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon.

I turned on the TV and texted my husband at work.

I texted my brothers and my dad, all three of them working at Boston hospitals.  They weren't at work but being in an administrative position, my dad started getting alerts from his hospital soon thereafter.

I watched raw, raw footage on TV.  I saw raw, raw pictures on the internet.  I took screen shots of the pictures.  I'm not even sure why because it's painful to look at them now and I would never repost them.  But there was a part of me that knew how raw they were and that they would probably never be posted again.  It was surreal.  My heart beat out of my chest.

I watched fear and confusion turn quickly into strength and pride almost instantaneously.  

And my heart still kept beating out of my chest.  For days.  I was safe in my home.  Or was I?  There was so much unknown and living 20 minutes away from the city, how safe was I?  No one knew who had made attempts to terrorize our city and therefore no one knew where they were.  All of those emotions of fear, confusion, strength, and pride were so real for me.

I remember days of unknown.  I remember scouring the internet for anything that might be true.  I remember random people posting random speculative photos of who they thought was responsible for the bombings.  Those were photos of innocent people, but everyone was grasping for anything that might offer answers or closure.  I remember days of shielding my child from anything negative.  We only watched news coverage out of her eye and earshot.

I remember getting into bed several days later, after seeing my first glimpses of who was thought be responsible for the bombings.  I remember getting another alert on my phone that an MIT police officer had been shot.  I didn't even log into my phone to read details.  I just put my phone on my nightstand and rolled over.  And then I lay awake in the darkness for a long time, listening to my husband sleep, finally deciding to check my phone again and seeing chatter on twitter that this was all related.

I remember waking up on Friday, April 19, the day when everyone was going to wear their Boston clothes in support of our city.  I wore my Boston Red Sox shirt that day even though I wasn't planning to leave my house.  I turned on the TV and watched with wide eyes as news broadcasters gave updates about what was going on.  I remember my husband getting texts from a friend and coworker from Watertown, telling him that he wasn't allowed to leave his home.  I remember being grateful for my own family's safety but wishing my husband wasn't allowed to leave home for work that day.  I let my daughter watch kid shows while I stood in my bedroom with the grown-up TV on, watching the news, watching twitter on my phone and computer, listening to scanner feeds that were clogged with so many other people hoping for some ounce of up to date information that told us what was going on in our community.  I remember experiencing the power of social media, particularly twitter, in times of crisis.  I remember pictures on twitter of heavily armed men perched on neighborhood roofs just waiting.  I remember watching law enforcement sending out twitter posts to tell people to stop posting pictures of locations of officers hiding on social media.  I remember law enforcement yelling over scanner feeds that the public needed to stop posting what they heard on the scanner on social media.  I remember them telling the public to stop listening to the scanners all together.

I remember pictures of law enforcement officers carrying jugs of milk to families with young children who were not allowed to leave their homes but needed groceries.

I remember it being a nice day that day.  We went outside to play.  It was peaceful except for the sound of helicopters flying over Watertown, just a short distance away.  

I remember counting the hours until my husband got home.  I remember taking a walk to the pond behind our house with my family.  I remember my husband getting texts from his friend about more gunfire in Watertown.  I remember hurrying back home so that we could get back to the TV.  I remember getting my daughter in the bathtub while my husband watched on TV and I watched on social media and periodically listened on the scanner.  It was too intense to listen for more that a minute or so at a time.

I remember getting my daughter into bed and then sitting on the edge of the couch cushion watching as the source of fear was captured.  I remember tears running down my face as I watched community members and safety officials cheering.  I remember never feeling more proud or connected to this community.

I have lived in the Boston area for 35 years (shhhhh, yes that's how old I am!).  Obviously, when you only live in one place your whole life, it holds your allegiance.  But my love for this city and my pride for my identity as a Bostonian changed one year ago and that's what I remember more than anything else.  I could not wait to get to that Marathon Memorial in Copley Square before it was moved to a different location.  I could not wait to just get into that city.  

I remember feeling so much pride when I walked into my local grocery store and watched staff hanging an American flag in the doorway.  I remember just wanting to hug everyone I met and say Boston Strong!  I remember appreciating the prayers of people from all over the world for the people of this city.  And I remember the people of this city wanting to offer that same kind of support to other communities experiencing tragedies because that's what you do.  

I remember praying for the families of those whose lives were lost and following the healing journeys of survivors on facebook and news.  And more recently I remember hearing about those same people preparing to return to the Marathon this year... because that's what you do when you're Boston Strong.

It's amazing that one day can hold so many emotions, but it does.  And if it does for me, I can't even begin to imagine the emotions it holds for those much closer impacted by the Boston Marathon Bombings than me.  For them I pray for a peace that passes all understanding... and continued healing.

I try to give thanks for every day.  It's hard to give thanks for a day that changed the course of so many lives in a horrific way.  But in reality, that day changed us by making us stronger.  I'm thankful for the strength of the human spirit and the strength of this city.  I'm thankful for community.  I'm thankful for healing, both physical and emotional.  I'm thankful for amazing law enforcement officers and first responders.  And I am so thankful that my strongest memories, and the feelings that are more real to me now than ever, are those of resiliency and pride.

So, with so many others, today I say again, Boston Strong.

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