Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Longest Day of My Life


It has taken me a few days to process everything that has happened over the past week and what was undoubtedly the longest day of my life...

Monday kicked off what was supposed to be the start of a busy but typical April vacation week for the kids. As with every Marathon Monday, we took the boys to watch the Boston Marathon at mile 23, the same spot we've been going to for the over 10 years. We cheered the elite runners and first wave of athletes with Half-Assed Mama and her kids before grabbing burritos at Anna's and headed back home around 2pm. And little did we know, just 3.2 miles up the road and 50 minutes before bombs that would rock the city to its core.

That week, I found myself wavering between feelings of sadness, anger and pride, reflecting on the stories I read from eyewitnesses at the finish line. The kids continued with their vacation activities, blissfully unaware of the Marathon Bombings - until Wednesday night when we grabbed dinner at Dorado...

My 7-year-old was sitting across from me eating his dinner when I see his eyes start to fill up with tears and a look of horror on his face. That's when I remembered there was a TV behind me and he must have seen footage from the bombings. I quickly suggested we go for a walk.
W: I saw explosions on TV. It was at the Marathon in Copley Square!
Me: Yes. It was terrible. There were two explosions near the finish line.
W: But no one was hurt, right?
Me: Unfortunately, yes. There were a lot of people that got hurt.
W: Oh no! But no one died, right?
Me: Unfortunately three people died.
W: That's so terrible! (sobbing)
Me: I know. It is. But it could have been much, much worse. There were a lot of people there to help. And the police are doing everything they can to find out what happened and to make sure it doesn't happen again. And we are going to do everything we can to keep you safe.
He took it pretty hard and struggled with sleeping the next few nights. My heart ached for him as I knew, like everyone else in Boston, Monday's bombings would forever change the way he looked at the Marathon. And then came Friday...

Cut to 2:30AM Friday morning. My husband's phone chirps from a text followed by the ringing of our landline. He stumbles to get the phone and hands it to me while he retrieves his cell. That's when I hear, "This is a message from the Watertown Police Department... There is currently an incident occurring...  STAY INSIDE." My heart is racing as the message is repeated. My husband says it's a text from his friend out in Montana asking "WTF is going on?!" He goes online and reads me the headline about "MAYHEM IN WATERTOWN." OMG. I'm terrified and run to grab the iPad to see for myself.

From 2:30 on, I frantically refresh my Twitter feed and Boston.com page and learn about the events as they unfold just a few miles from our home. I do not want to turn on the TV as I don't want to wake the kids. I find a site streaming the Watertown police scanner, so I listen to hear a first-hand account of what is now an unprecedented manhunt that shutdown a major city and forced residents to stay indoors for over 20 hours.

I am terrified for the rest of the day, with words such as "LOCKDOWN" and "SHELTER IN PLACE" keep me on edge. We decide not to tell the kids for fear it would frighten them. We pretended it was a stay-at-home day, complete with movies, games, play dough, books and baked banana bread. All the while, praying my family would not be subject to a home search by the SWAT teams swarming our neighborhood or worse, gunfire, explosions, or a hostage situation... it was all too much to bear.

Finally at 6pm, the lockdown is lifted and that's when we decide to pack the family up and head to NH to stay at my mother-in-law's. We are less than a mile from the house when emergency vehicles scream past our car and I can hear a helicopter fly overhead. Something was going down and I wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of town.

That's when the texts come streaming in and phone calls asking if we are close to Franklin Street. We live just down the road from Franklin Street, but thankfully on the highway and nowhere near what would end up being the location of the now infamous boat in the driveway in Watertown.

I felt like I had to write this as a way for me to process what happened and to move forward. I am so thankful for everyone that reached out to us on social media and by phone to make sure we were okay. It truly helped knowing everyone was looking out for us while we feared for our lives for over 20 hours in our home. And as Half-Assed Mama reminded me, as horrible as this past week has been for the people of Boston and the surrounding communities, there are other parts of the world that live in constant fear for their lives. I am so grateful on so many levels.

I have been able to spare my children from learning about the horrors of 9/11 and Newtown, doing my best to protect their innocence for as long as I possibly can. But this was too close to home. Way too close. We told my 7-year-old, in the most basic terms, what happened on Friday:
"We were on lockdown yesterday, just like you practice in school. They needed to find some bad guys and the only way to do that was to shut down the city. They found the bad guys hiding in Watertown and hopefully nothing like this will happen again. There were a lot of brave men and women that worked really hard to catch them and keep everyone safe. Let's remember to thank them. Always." 




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