I had an appointment on Wednesday after sitting in the coffee shop and then next door at my friend's barber shop doing some work (truth-trying to do work, but instead, being distracted by a million different things). After my appointment, I made my way to Boylston Street with the plan to meet a friend, visit Marathon Sports, and then the memorial at the library. As I was stuck in traffic on Boylston near Engine 33, I heard a lot of sirens and saw a couple of cop cars race by and down Hereford. The sounds of sirens, especially close by goes right through me. My entire body cringes and it triggers anxiety more than it did for a while. I had gotten used to it after a while, but it has come back. Part of the time we were running away that I remember was near the Fairmont Copley after coming down Huntington. There were ambulances, black SUVs and other first responder vehicles passing us on either side, sirens blaring, as we tried to stay out of their way while still staying in the middle of the street. The explosions had happened on the sidewalks so we did not feel safe there. So, sirens go through me, they trigger, they seem so unbelievably loud, my head instantly hurts. But, I know I'll get used to them in time.
After parking, I made my way to Marathon Sports. We visited with Shane who is the manager, discussing the events of the night before where all businesses were on lockdown for hours the night before. None of the three of us talking there felt necessarily scared by the person who left the backpack. What did make us nervous is the fact that he made it to the finish line. That, in an area that has had the most police presence probably in the entire city lately, someone was able to get that far, even as he caused an obvious scene. It goes along with something people have been saying which is, "The marathon will be the safest place to be on that day". I have to be honest, I don't really believe that. If someone wants to do something, they find a way to do it. It does not make me afraid to go near there. I think that's the reality now. We can do whatever we want to stay safe, but there are people out there who do whatever they want to do something bad. It's not something that should stop people from doing things they love, it's just the reality. So, that phrase that people say just doesn't help me. I know they think it does and I do appreciate the gesture. I won't let it keep me away, but I just try to be realistic about it. My body will obviously react like it always does even if my brain says it's going to be okay.
All of that said, I am hopeful and thinking positive that Monday will be a great day, without any incidents. My hope is that there are no more people who think it's funny to call in a threat or do something stupid that day for attention or because they are mentally ill. Something like that can ruin the spirit of the day and it does not need to be ruined as we try to reclaim it. I will get to my Monday plans a little later. Before we left, we took a picture of the wreath in the front of the store. As they were clearing out from the ceremony at the finish line Tuesday, they asked Shane if they wanted the wreath that was there all day for this lives lost right there. He was honored and it sat in the front of the store. Just beautiful.
After our visit, we went to the memorial. I like to read the beautiful message and see the things people left. It reminds me of the love, the support, the generosity. Every time I get to the area with the messages front those there and the messages for those who were lost, that is when it hits me and I cry. It felt good to cry since the lump in my throat has been there so often this week, unable to let it release, especially in front of people. We did messages to add to the beautiful trees they have there. Mine is the one above.
I went home and was suddenly exhausted to a point where I felt I didn't want to move. So, I sat on the couch and obsessed a bit over articles and watched videos from the day before, wanting to see speeches again. I wanted to remember the beautiful messages. Menino's speech got to me hard, both at the Tribute and when I watched it online. He said, "When lights dim and cameras go away, know that our support and love for you will never waiver." I loved that part. It made me cry harder, but not out of sadness. One worry is that after the anniversary and the marathon, people will forget. They will move on and think it's "over" while many of us will still be dealing with it, though hopefully easier as the days, weeks, and months go on. It was a relief and emotional to hear Menino say that. I also loved Patrick and Adrianne's speeches. Adrianne said two great things. One is that it's "Okay to not be Okay" and also that we should vow to help people. Others in our communities need us. I loved that. As i've said, helping others has helped me and it doesn't matter what they need help for. Like that great quote, "Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Basically, turn your hurt into love and compassion. I stopped watching videos and reading articles because I realized I was doing it too much.
Today, I think of Sean Collier and his family and tomorrow I will think of all of the people who risked their lives in Watertown as well as all of the residents who may be triggered simply because of what day it is. "What our brain blocks out, our body remembers."
Yesterday was a long day. I went to meet a new friend, a woman who was there last year, but was just trying to be "fine" and deal with it alone. We spent 4 hours together just talking, venting, and hearing each other's stories. It was in talking to her that something I've been wondering forever started to become clearer in my brain. She told me about videos she'd found. There's this strange need to see yourself there in a picture or video, a way to help piece together the blank spots in your memory. I didn't really care throughout the year, but earlier on and recently, it's been on my mind and I used to obsessively look for them. It is sort of a validation. Sometimes it feels like it was a nightmare. Of course, with the things I know and remember, the things I've gone through since, I know I was there. But, some days you wake up or get home after a long, exhausting and emotional day and wish it was all a dream. I watched one of the videos which helped me figure out who someone was. I was struck about how I'm even able to watch it since it's graphic. But, those are some of the images I have in my head, so i'm used to them by now. I still shook harder as I watched though. I heard a cop directly people up the road saying, "If there's another one, it's going to go off. Go that way", his voice shaking. That was the exact thought I had and why I made us get out of there while Lauren was frozen on the sidewalk.
This woman described a man to me, a young man who passed her earlier in the day and who she saw helping a blond woman as she ran to Ring Rd to escape. That blond woman has been on my mind all year. At first, I only remembered one thing, a cop carrying a child, as those of you reading front the beginning know. The next clearer memory that came back after some time, was this blond woman. I saw her surrounded by people, a cop (I remembered because he was wearing that bright yellow vest), some civilians. Ever since that day, I've wondered who she was, if she was okay. I searched last summer trying to figure out who she was to no avail and eventually I gave up, but never forgot. I remember her having some blood on her face so I couldn't see what she looked like when I passed by her. I only knew she was blond and lying in the street. Well, the video showed another view, from the other side of Ring Rd and I instantly knew who she was. She is Roseann Sdoia. I confined it by finding more details on her story written by this man that helped her. She is a woman I've been in a room with many times before, especially recently. I had no idea. It was a bit of a relief. I finally knew who that woman was and what had happened to her. I had never imagined that the woman I saw lost any limbs because I assumed she was just hit by shrapnel from across the street. It's like the pieces are coming together. I have always been torn between wanting to know every detail and thinking maybe I don't want to remember the things I forgot. Now that it's coming together, it feels like I'm completing the puzzle and it's helpful.
I felt tired, but promised another friend who was having a difficult day that I would meet him. I also wanted to join him in seeing the beautiful prayer canvases displayed in the Common. We had signed a canvas at the Hynes Tuesday and then a special one just for us to sign was at the Reception saying "Thank You". Seeing all of the messages, large and beautiful canvases from each state and multiple ones from some states, was touching. We even took a picture of a young boy and his mom and friend who had done a square on one of the canvases. He was so proud of his addition. I'll put some images of the canvases below. After a long day (the shaking continues as well as my brain racing and the lump in my throat and crying either in the car or at home), I went home. Once home is when I watched that video and found out the above. I also finally got some work done, about one solid hour of editing. I finally felt accomplished in my work as I have felt awful to not have the ability to focus. All in all, yesterday may have been the closest to "normal" i've felt in over a month. It was nice.
Tomorrow, I will go and watch the 5K. Many friends and Matt are going to be in it and I will cheer them on. After, we will do a tribute walk/run that will end at the finish line. It may be difficult but we will all be together which will make it easier. It will also be a good idea of how Monday could go.
Monday, I have about four different options of what to do. One is to leave the city completely, one involves attending a private viewing from a place on Boylston with large windows, and the others involve going in earlier or later in the day or the ultimate, being on the sidewalk at the thick of it. I do not see myself doing the last one. I have finally come to terms with that. I realize now that I do not need to prove anything to myself or others. Everyone I've talked to this week is doing different things. Some are running, some are going to the party, some are staying away, and some are doing the same as me, choosing that morning. It does not matter what we all do as long as we do what we feel is best. We know that we are all surrounded by love across the city and that we will be holding each other close no matter where we are. I do worry for those running or trying to push themselves to be in the thick of the crowd or near the finish line, but hopefully all will get through it. I hope everyone lets themselves feel whatever comes, no matter how it comes out. It's important to let it out and to focus on the love we've found.