Friday started with a very early wake up as usual. I felt okay though. I can't even remember what my morning looked like, but I know it took me forever to get out of the house. Just looking back at texts (these, Facebook posts and notes on my phone are the main way I remember things lately!), I remember that I received a message that I had been quoted on Kiss108. My name wasn't used, but she knew it was my quote because she had read my Globe article. I went to their site to listen to the clip. The man being interviewed was a journalist from the Globe along with a colleague who wrote a book, "Long Mile Home". In talking about the mental health side of all of this, a thing he and Matty from Matty in the morning were in agreement about, they said that there needs to be focus on the emotional wounds. He said they are real injuries and there is still a stigma, but they are wide spread and need to be addressed. He said there was a great quote from a woman affected in the Globe, "In the year of Boston Strong, I've never felt so weak". I emailed him just as a thank you for talking about this issue. He wrote back pretty fast saying he's happy I wrote and he really feels this is important. It helped to make my morning "up". Any time I'm actually helping someone or I see that there is more awareness being brought to this side of things, I feel some sense of relief. It helps me.
It took me forever to get out the door, as usual. I swear I walk in circles. I also couldn't find my license so I was freaking out a bit. When I was younger, I had two times that I forgot to bring my license when going out drinking. It became a joke with some people. I check about 5 times when I go out to be sure I have it and my bank card since those times. Last April 15, when we got out of the car, I only took my phone and bank card. I thought I had my keys as well for a while. I couldn't remember, but know they were nowhere to be found. Later they would be found at my uncle's house. I think about how I didn't take my license. I think now about how if anything had happened, I wouldn't have had my ID on me. It makes me even more worried about making sure I do have it now.
I went to City Hall to drop off my pictures for the Marathon Art exhibit starting tomorrow. I visited with lots of friends and felt pretty "normal", at least more than I had in probably over a month. My leg shook a bit when I sat down, but that was it. I then made my way walking to Back Bay to meet a friend. I grabbed coffee and walked down Boylston. There were a lot of people around and I felt a little numb. I got to Marathon Sports and couldn't find my friend who was supposed to be there, so I stood outside. As I stood there, I felt sick to my stomach. Shane, the manager, suddenly asked if I was okay. I realized I was standing holding onto the fence put up in front of it and staring down the sidewalk. I had an instant headache and he told me to come in and sit down to wait. Another friend came in and I said we needed to go down the street to the firehouse. The organizers of the One Run were presenting Engine 33/Ladder15 with patches from across the country. I was anxious about not being able to get a hold of my other friend. I know I get irrationally upset and aggravated when I can't get a hold of someone when I need to, but I couldn't get a hold of people at the time I needed it the most last year.
We walked fast down Boylston and made it in time to see the presentation. I started to feel overwhelmed by the crowd. We made our way to the Hynes. I had to pick up bracelets that were made from last year's banners. I had ordered two and that was the only place to get them. We went in, chatted with some people, then I felt I needed to get out of there fast. There were a lot of people. We made our way back down Boylston and by the time we reached Copley, I was wiped out. I can't even remember if we did anything else, but I remember I just wanted to be home. I walked all the way because I didn't want to get on a crowded train. Every time I heard sirens that day, especially when they went right by me, tears filled my eyes. Every time. That sound just gets to me, especially when they also beep as well. The sirens and beeps are all too familiar from running away that day.
Saturday, I headed in to the 5k. I hadn't found anyone to meet up with, so I made my way to Boston Common and through the crowd. I started to feel anxious, but luckily one of my marathon friends is 6'7", so I spotted him standing in the street. I ran to him and threw my arms around him. I had already started shaking. I then spotted Matt and Luke, so I made my way over to see them. Matt and I chatted about his excitement for the races and how the week had been for me. Luke gave me hug and told me I had a great article. He then asked if I needed his long sleeve shirt. I was confused for a moment and Matt started laughing. Luke thought I was shivering because I was cold. It actually made me laugh a little. I watched the very beginning alone, feeling anxious, but then found Matt's dad. I continued to shake with the crowd around, but it wasn't as bad as some days are. We watched together near the finish and even took a picture together. When he left, I found another friend to watch the rest with and then go meet up with some other people. We made our way down Boylston to Marathon Sports for a picture.
As always, everyone was there with hugs for each other. I'm not always a big hugger, but I always like to hug these people. My shaking lessened. B.J. from the Semper Fi Fund was there handing out shirts for us to wear in a picture. He gave me a big hug and said, "Hey, you're not shaking as much today!" It's the little things. :) We took some group pictures and then made our way to the start of the Tribute Walk/Run. I saw some more people in the VIP tent and then we made our way to Boylston to start. I told my friend Jim and B.J. about my revelation about Roseann. They told me to make sure I talk to her about it. We were laughing and talking. I met some new people. Walking down Boylston past Copley and then over to Newbury was good. We were chatting, my friend Anton was being goofy and cracking us up. I felt good down Newbury. As we made our way back to Boylston, I was chatting with B.J.'s wife Sarah. She was asking me some questions about "my story" and I was just focusing on talking to her. I saw Adrianne and Adam near Fairfield and took a picture of them. Then, I just looked straight ahead, avoiding looking to the sides.
I saw Adrianne and Adam stop, hugging. I didn't want to take a picture at first, but then did, wanting to give that to her later. As I snapped the picture, I saw Forum and the tree with the small memorial around it and it hit me. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. Instead of turning back to the right and walking, I did a full circle around, feeling disoriented for a moment and I started to cry. I walked and B.J. came up next to me, putting his hand on my shoulder. He said it was okay. I cried harder as we passed the spot I stood last year. It was so strange. I pass this place all the time, but at this moment, the emotion hit hard. As my hand holding my camera started to shake, he asked if I needed them to take anything. I shook my head no as I tried to stop crying. I was walking with eyes closed and head down, now fully aware of the people walking by and stopping to look. After we got a little farther, B.J. asked if I wanted to run to the finish line with him. I thought for a second about my heavy camera bag slung over me and the camera in my hand, but said yes. We ran and I don't remember it or crossing the finish line. I remember people cheering and that he immediately hugged me after we crossed. I honestly feel like I blacked out for a minute, crying the entire way in. I held on really tight thanking him and then another friend immediately hugged me. This girl and I always seem to be near each other just when we need a hug.
Some of the next while is a blur. I remember watching people come in, walking around seeing some different people, hugging people. Tears kept coming down. After it was all over and we had some pictures and goodbyes, I went to get lunch with some others. I then spent the afternoon with my friend Shannon. We basically just walked up and down Boylston and into the Pru and on Huntington, chatting. Every single time I passed "my spot" that day, I cried. It just kept hitting me. The crowd was thick, the barriers were all up, I got flashes in my head of moments from last year. It was all too real. But, It was better than I thought. NO big anxiety attacks. At one point, we ended up walking on that side of the street and I felt overwhelmed as we neared the spot and my friend knew we had to walk fast. Another friend coming toward us stopped to chat and I just said I had to keep walking.
It was now 4:30 and I was utterly exhausted. I walked all the way home. Again, sirens caused tears and random things did as well. But, I was just tired and didn't feel much else. When I got home, however, it hit me. I cried a lot. I posted pictures and remembered that moment B.J. helped me. It was all emotional.
Yesterday was Easter and I felt okay all day, just wiped out and shook only at times. I visited my little cousins, went to my uncle's and visited Matt to wish him luck. He told me that he had looked during the 5k to find where I said I would be today if I go in. I said I would definitely be there, so he said he was going to look up when he goes by. I can't wait to see that face. I will go in and meet some friends and make our way in there together.
I decided that if I was far away today, I would worry about everyone. I also figured I handled Saturday okay, so I can face today, especially at a private party with some of my marathon family. I even told Matt's mom that I may get brave and come outside if she ends up down near the place i'll be. We'll see. Taking this day one minute at a time. I'm sure it will be emotional, but I will get through it with my "marathon family".
Today, I will think of all of the people affected by last year's bombings, either directly or indirectly. To those who were there last year attending the race in any capacity, may you find strength and healing. Let yourself feel whatever and wherever you need, no matter what it is. If you need to leave or not attend, then don't. We all need to do what is best for each of us. I will be going in, though doing my best to stay out of the crowd and chaos. It will be an emotional day for many. For those not attending, feel good about that decision. Enjoy your day. For those who were impacted by this in any way, whether family and friends of those there that day, running and being stopped, watching on tv at home, or finding out later what happened, I will also think of you. The impacts of that day are widespread, but the love and beauty that came out of such an awful day are what we can all focus on. The determination to LET LOVE WIN. Let this day be historic in a positive way, overshadowing the pain of last year. We will continue to heal and today does not mean it's over and all is better, but we will keep moving forward, holding each other in person or in spirit. Love and healing thoughts to my marathon peeps, my family and friends, and all of Boston. LOVE WINS.
I don't think I'd be where I am without my marathon family. I felt so isolated and alone before even with some wonderful people supporting me. The last few weeks have been hard, but also healing. Doing it together has made all the difference.
Let's do this.