Friday, April 11, 2014

The Finish Line

The finish line of a year of grieving and healing is in sight. Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of 4/15/13. A week from Monday, over 36,000 runners toe the line at Hopkinton for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

I remember seeing the President's speech at the memorial service on Youtube on April 18th of last year wondering - is that possible?

Last year, before we left for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to be a part of Spaulding Rehab's Race for Rehab special day, I felt this burning need to change the title of my blog from Welcome to a New World which had been the title since I started blogging in 2008. I changed it to healing, hope and possibility.

Yesterday, I visited the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The staging is going up at the finish line. The sky was blue. There was a chill in the air as the wind gusted at times yet the sun was warm. It was a wonderful metaphor for the transformation from winter to Spring; from grieving to healing and for slowly and mindfully moving forward physically and emotionally from the events of 4/15/13.

My daughter and I visited the Boston Marathon Memorial Exhibit at the Boston Public Library.

Right after you enter

there is a guest book that reminded me of a guest book you sign at a funeral.

A display of running shoes left at the outdoor memorial is set up front and center.

The exhibit is arranged by themes

My breath caught when I saw a Race for Rehab singlet in a display case saying Spaulding Rehab will help survivors find their strength and quality of life. They sure helped me find mine back in 2006-2007!

As you move through the exhibit, the last theme is Boston Still Shines Bright:

And there are bare trees with daffodils planted at the base of those trees with messages of healing, hope and love that visitors write on a tag and hang on the branches:

After leaving the exhibit, there was a reporter taping at the finish line, "It's been almost one year since two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon...."

Almost one year...the finish line of a year unlike any of us ever anticipated when we got up on the morning of April 15th, 2013. I have repeatedly said throughout this year how blessed and fortunate we were to be spared so much. Had we received the text that our friend had crossed the 40K mark, we would have been downstairs on Boylston Street across from the Forum waiting for him to come down Boylston Street to claim his medal and feel the exhilaration of having run the Boston Marathon.

We felt the explosion. We saw the smoke. Fortunately we had not been looking out the window when the second bomb exploded. We felt the terror and uncertainty of what we were walking into after we were evacuated. We smelled the bombs and we saw and heard every emergency vehicle careen down Huntington Avenue as we walked faster than I could remember in a long time to what we hoped would be safety.

Lockdown brought another day of terror.

But we are moving forward. Time, patience, love, community, my return to running, being support crew, fundraising for Spaulding and journaling bring healing. The process cannot be rushed anymore than the transformation from Winter to Spring can be rushed. And everyone heals in their own way and their own time.

My dear friend Tom Licciardello wrote a beautiful piece Runners Corner: Boston Marathon Buildup Intensifies as Race Draws Near.

I wonder if this year will mend the damage done last year, or will it reopen emotional wounds?

Will my friends, who didn’t get to finish last year’s race, feel fulfilled when they cross the finish line?

Will the 118th Boston mark the beginning of moving forward, while not forgetting the past?

The answers will come on April 21.

Every morning, I wake up to see this:

It's a reminder to me of healing, hope and possibility. There are no words to adequately express what I felt in that moment crossing the finish line of the 113th Bostno Marathon. I can only imagine what it will be like for runners this year.

Yet every finish line is a starting line. I'm curious to see what the Facebook News Feed will be like on 4/22. I look forward to seeing an abundance of selfies on the Boston Marathon course and at the finish line. I expect to see profile pics changing filled with faces of smiles and tears and marathon medals.

But for now there is a 10 day journey to take us from now through the one year anniversary and to the starting line of the 118th Boston Marathon. But the finish line is in sight!

You can read about my journey from a wheelchair to the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon and beyond in my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" now available on Amazon.

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