We Were There

Yes, we were there and I can’t really blog about gardening again until I write about it. I participated in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for the first time the other day. It was such fun to join in with other bloggers all over the world to talk about what’s blooming and I saw a nice big push in my views. Now I’ve taken ten steps back from that. It seems insignificant after what happened. I thought that it would be fun to take four of my kids in to see the marathon. As a family we’d participated in various ways over the years so it’s close to our hearts, as it is for so many people here in the Boston area. Michael had to work and I felt strong and confident on Monday, like the kind of Mom who can do lots of fun things with her kids. Michael dropped us off at the Wonderland T stop around 1:30 and we rode the subway in with a plan to come home on the commuter rail. It was a fun ride with conversation about riding the subway with my sister when she and her family visited last year and my brother’s Marathon runs. We got off at the Prudential Center stop and headed for the marathon route, enjoying the crowd and hoping to see the runners. Before I knew it we were on Boylston Street in a shoulder to shoulder crowd. We snaked our way up the street with my little guy in the lead, my hand on his shoulder and my little girl behind him with the big girls following us closely. We got to the corner of Boylston and Exeter Streets and something told me very clearly to turn right and get out of the crowd. I steered us over and we were in an open area. I said “lets head out this way and go around the crowd, maybe we’ll get closer to the finish line that way.”  We went up the next side street, stopping to take some photos. We were standing on the next corner in view of the medical tents when it happened. A huge, earth shaking noise erupted and the smell of smoke came over us. I knew right away that something was very wrong. A few seconds later there was another blast. I instinctively knew that we had to get away from there and said to the kids “we’re going to start walking now, as fast as we can, something’s wrong and we need to get away from here.” So we did. We walked, not knowing what happened. We called Michael and he hadn’t heard anything about it.  My sister in Pennsylvania saw it on the news and called and asked if we were okay. We were, but we wondered what happened. No one knew. People around us were crying. They were on their phones speaking urgently. The ambulances and police cars passed us endlessly. I knew that something terrible had happened.  In my panic, which I was working very hard to hide, I checked my phone map to try to figure out the best route. The subways closed immediately and I knew that it would be dangerous to consider getting on public transportation anyway. At first I thought we’d get to North Station and get on the next train to Salem. As we walked and I planned our strategy I started to think twice about the train idea. Michael agreed and made arrangements for us to meet co-workers of his at the National Park in Charlestown, across the river. We got a little lost but we slowly made our way from the Back Bay, through South Boston, into Chinatown and then into the financial district. As I looked at my map on a street corner a businessman asked if I needed help. I told him that I was trying to get to Charlestown, to the National Park there, where we knew people and would be safe. He walked us through to the view of the bridge that we needed to cross to finish our trip. It felt like a huge vacation to have a few minutes to think about what to do without having to think about where we had to step. As we walked I kept looking for open businesses and door ways in case we needed to get inside since we still had no idea of what had  happened. We were hoping that it had been a transformer explosion, not a terrorist. We made it over the bridge to the park and into an NPS office where we waited for Michael to come get us. As we sat there our phones told us more and more about the situation. The idea that we had walked up the street, right past the bombs was more than I could imagine. The fact that I subjected my kids to such a close call is still sending waves of guilt over me. Knowing that their innocence was stolen at the ages of eight, ten, fourteen and sixteen makes me furious. The reality that we are all okay leaves me thankful beyond measure. Now we’re working on figuring this out. We’re trying to process what happened and put it someplace. We’re also praying for the victims and their families. I’m going outside to plant radishes with my kids in the sunshine now. That’s how we heal around here. We pray and we plant and we carry on.