365 days ago was hopefully the scariest day of my life. 365 days ago was the day the world I live in changed forever. 365 days ago was the day that my beautiful city changed forever.
Sometimes I can’t believe that it’s been an entire year since the Marathon bombings. At other times it feels like it happened yesterday. A day hasn’t gone by this past year that I haven’t remembered the events of that day. And as the recent weather has finally turned into spring, every cool morning reminds me of the morning of April 15th. A morning when I woke up before my alarm, where the air held so much excitement and potential, and ended so tragically.
My memories are triggered by small things. Like when I put on my red Toms I remember a friend giving her motherly advice that it wasn’t a good day to walk around in flip flops. Little did she know that later in the afternoon it would be because I was running away from explosions. Every morning on my way to work I pass the Curley Community Center in South Boston and I remember being ushered inside as we piled out of an over-stuffed van. I remember sitting at a table in a room that was set up for a celebration for the L Street Runners, but instead being used for displaced marathoners and family members. The smell of pasta sauce and cupcake frosting making me nauseous as we waited for a way to get home. It took a while before the sight of a porta-potty stopped making me nervous, never mind locking myself inside of one.
The truth is that there are so many horrible things I could remember today. And while I know that at some point I will acknowledge them, and probably cry about them, today I want to focus on the good things. Today I will remember that beautiful morning when I awoke before my alarm clock out of anticipation. I remember the excitement in following the slow-moving river of runners, of cheering “you’ve got this!” over and over again, of holding our smiley face balloon high in the air. I remember being with someone who stayed so calm and brave for me even if he was a wreck inside. Today I remember the moment of absolute relief in spotting one of my best friends in a sea of runners, when minutes before I wasn’t sure if she was alive. I remember how incredibly grateful I am that I was sheltered from the blasts by those tiny plastic walls. I remember how we were able to find humor in the fact that my friend’s father (who I barely knew at the time) pulled me out of the porta potty, and how her first concern was that my fly was down. I am thankful that we can laugh about these small details.
I remember how strong and supportive my fiancee was. How he sat patiently on the cover of the toilet while I showered off the horrific-ness of the day just so that I didn’t have to be alone. I remember what it felt like when I hugged my parents the next time I saw them. I remember the love and support of friends, family, and even long lost acquaintances who checked in on me in those first hours and days. I remember how thankful I am that my future co-workers, who I didn’t know at the time, were spared that day as well. I remember how my beautiful city and the beautiful community of runners came together in those days, weeks, and months. I remember how much stronger we are as we stand here today.
I wish I knew how I feel will feel next week, on the 3rd Monday in April. I don’t know what kind of emotions will fill my heart as I awake before my alarm clock. What I do know is this: I will be there. I will be there in Framingham, in Newton, and finally, in Boston. I will cheer even louder, I will stand even prouder. I will take the happy finish line pictures I never got to take last year. And I will do it all with that smiley face balloon held even higher in the sky.