On April 15, 2013 my life changed forever. I'm not going to sit here and recount the horrific events of that day or say that I had it worse or not as bad as the next person. All you need to know is that my colleagues, friends, husband and I were at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel when the second bomb went off directly across the street.
A few days after the bombing I went for a run to claim my car, which had been held under the Mandarin as part of the extensive investigation. At the time I was living in Boston and could have easily taken a cab, the T or even hitched a ride with a friend. I'm not sure what made me decide to strap on my shoes and run the 2+ miles to the hotel, but something deep inside made me do it. As I started to run I found myself tired, out of breath and disappointed in how out of shape I was, after all, I'm not a runner. However, I just kept running. I ran past the Science Museum, The Liberty Hotel, Massachusetts General Hospital, down Charles Street, through Boston Common, past Newbury Street and started to head down Boylston Street, which at the time was still mostly closed. I found myself stopped at what was the makeshift memorial and edge of the bombing crime scene. As I walked slowly to the memorial I silently pushed my way through the crowd of strangers until I couldn't go any farther. I immediately knelt down and cried. I suddenly realized why I had been running: For those who no longer could.
Many of you know that I work in a Rehab hospital. I see the results of tragedy every day. Whether it is a stroke that no one saw coming or a tragic car accident that has left a young person with a brain injury. Until April 15th I saw the patients after whatever that "thing" was that made them come to us. After April 15th I realized that I would share an experience with many of our patients. The hospital was soon filled with those who were physically harmed by the selfish and evil acts of two sick individuals.
Part of my job is to ensure that our patients have a positive experience while they are within our walls. I remember going to my Vice President and telling him that I was uncomfortable and afraid to visit some of the survivors. I quickly realized that it wasn't fear, it was guilt. I felt guilty that I was on Boylston Street that day, too, but I was lucky. I didn't lose a limb. I didn't have shrapnel lodged in my body. I didn't lose my life or a family members life. My VP, being the compassionate person that he is, told me that he would visit with the survivors until I was ready and would even accompany me when I felt comfortable.
A few weeks later I gained enough courage and strength to visit with one of the survivors. With my VP and a fellow colleague in tow, I entered the room of a middle-aged woman surrounded by her family and friends. Upon my entry she immediately said "My name is Susan (name changed for confidentiality) come give me a hug." I walked over and embraced a complete stranger that I felt I had known forever. She pulled me closer and whispered in my ear: "Hug everyone. You never know when your life or the life of those you love can be taken or changed." With those few words I decided that I needed to do something. Not only for those affected by the tragic events on April 15th, but for those who encounter life altering injuries.
I have signed up for the Hyannis Half Marathon on Sunday, February 23, 2014. This blog will follow my journey to 13.1!
I'm not a runner, but I'm running for those who can't.
(The makeshift memorial at the end of Boylston Street.)