Jim and I left for Boston Saturday April 13, with much anticipation and excitement. We left the girls in the very capable hands of Gramsby and then Grandmommy. We traveled much of Saturday (with some flight complications), but arrived in Boston Saturday afternoon. As we were in the cab on the way to the hotel, I kept saying “this is amazing, beautiful, like nothing I have ever seen…”
The architecture was beautiful and old, and there were people walking everywhere. We quickly checked into the Sheraton and went to the Marathon Expo (which was connected to our hotel). This was also unbelievable. There were die-hard runners everywhere (me being the very least of these). We purchased official Boston Marathon 2013 goodies and happies for the girls. Seeing everything took several hours to get through. We then went to dinner at Legal Seafood with a group from the North Mississippi/ Tennessee area, an event organized by Kenneth Williams (who was such a Godsend during the whole experience). It was great to get to meet and visit with these families (most of whom we met for the first time in Boston). We visited there for several hours before retiring to our room.
Our friends, Jane Clair and Kurt arrived late Saturday night, so we met them Sunday morning for the Duck Tours of Boston. This was a very neat and animated tour of the city and harbor (as we actually rode out on the water). The history of America is on every corner of this city. We grabbed lunch and met back at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game. This stadium is also full of history. Ironically, before the game, they had a tribute to veterans of war who had amputations. That night, we ate our pasta dinner and tried to get some sleep.
I left the hotel Monday morning at 6:15 in a cab with the group from North Mississippi/ Tennessee. We were dropped off at Boston Common where we got in line for the school buses to Hopkinton. Jane Clair met us at Boston Common (quite another story). We rode the buses for about 45 minutes out to Hopkinton where we were dropped off at “athletes’ village.” The time here flew by as we ate breakfast and pottied and then walked to the starting corrals. I don’t think this Mississippi girl has ever been in a crowd that big.
The first of our wave of runners started at 10:20 (9:20 Mississippi time), and I probably crossed the start line at about 10:25. The whole race was exhilarating. There were crowds ten people deep along the whole race course. I never put my headphones on because it was so exciting.
|“The Heartbreak is Over”|
This is when it all “happened”!!!! The Boston Marathon bombing!!! Jim was about a half block before the finish line while I was about a half block past the finish line. Jim says he heard the bomb, felt it, saw smoke, and knew it was something bad. I only heard a sound, maybe like something was falling, and then lots of screaming. I was still trying to get to our hotel when suddenly everyone was frantic and running. Policemen, ambulances, military, etc., came flooding in from every direction and we were herded in one direction and then another and then another. I think I crossed one street three different times. Eventually, we were stuffed into a restaurant and told to stay put. At this point, Jim had made it back to the hotel, but was locked in, and neither of us knew if the other was okay. In the restaurant, my phone was ringing constantly but no one was ever on the other end when I tried to answer. They had somehow cut cell phone service and not much of anything was going through. Finally, I answered and it was Tara (my sister) on the other end. Our conversation went something like this…
Tara: “Hey, are you OK?”
Me (hysterically): “There has been a bomb and I am all alone and scared to death and I can’t find Jim”
Tara: “I know, calm down, I have talked to Jim and he is okay. (breath of relief) Are you hurt? Try to calm down and tell me where you are”
Me: “I have no idea where I am”
Tara: “Try to calm down and find out the name of restaurant. If you can tell me the name, Jim can find it when they let him out”
I went to the door and told Tara the name (which I don’t remember).
Tara: “Stay put, don’t move, I’m going to call Jim and tell him you are okay. Just don’t move until Jim can get to you. Are you sure you are OK? Don’t get dehydrated”
God knew what he was doing when she was the only one who could get through on my phone. She is probably the only person besides Jim who could have calmed me at that point.
I had still not heard from Jane Clair or Kurt at this point. I was finally able to talk to Jim on a land line from the restaurant. He told me that they were okay too, but that he did not know when he would be able to get to me. As I waited in the restaurant, SWAT teams ran past fully armed. There were rumors of more bombs. I was shaking so hard from cold and fear. I began to be able to receive some texts. My phone had one bar of battery left. Jim told me not to use my phone at all unless it was him because we were afraid it would die before he got to me. I did eventually get another call from Tara (again, odd that her call came through) and she just checked on me and updated me on Jim. I asked her to call my Mom and Dad and make sure the girls knew we were okay. After this, I stood and waited and looked out a big glass window at all the police, ambulances, etc., outside in hopes that no one else got hurt. I finally received a text from Jane Clair that said that Kurt was coming to get me!!!
I was nervous for him to leave her, but he was already on his way at this point. When he walked in that restaurant, I yelled, “Kurt” and had to refrain from jumping in his arms. He said “I’m going to get you to Jim”. I tried to text Jim to tell him that I was on the way to him, but it did not go through. Kurt and I walked what seemed like around the world to get to our hotel. When I got up to the room, and knocked, Jim was not there!! I tried again to call and text, but got no response. A few minutes later, Jim came walking down the hall and I ran and jumped into his arms. Tears of joy and fear and love overwhelmed me. Kurt headed back to his hotel (which was risky. I was so humbled he would risk their separation to come get me). After settling for a few minutes, I called and talked to the girls. I had to rein in the emotions so that I would not scare them. Emma Claire was very serious and wanted to know what my time on the race was; Farrow Kate wanted to know if the bad boys were going to be on our plane; and both wanted to know if we could come home tomorrow. The sound of their voices was beautiful music. Jim and I then began to try to return texts and calls. We were still quarantined to our hotel. I finally took a shower (still physically shaking) and we went to the hotel lobby to see if we could get some food. We ended up in the lobby restaurant with several of the group from North Mississippi/ Tennessee, which was very reassuring. Our lobby had an armed SWAT team standing post. We were not able to get flights out the next day, so we went back to the room, called the girls again, and watched the news. We did not get much sleep obviously.
|SWAT Team in the lobby|
The next day, mid morning, we ventured down to see if we could get out of our hotel. We could, so we continued our planned tours. We met Jane Clair and Kurt at the Samuel Adams brewery for a tour. We rode the subway, rode a town trolley, went to Doyles (a famous restaurant), and then did the Freedom trail tour. The flags in Boston Common were at half staff. There were armed men everywhere, and of course the site of the bomb explosions was closed off. When we were riding the “water taxi” back from the Freedom trail tour, we saw armed coast guard everywhere. They had machine guns on the front of the boats. That night we returned to our hotel with high hopes we could get home and into the arms of our girls the next day….and we did!!! We are so thankful to be home and mixed with emotions that I think will balance out with time.
For more personal accounts of the 2013 Boston marathon, click here.
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