Guardian Angel or Intuition? Remembering the Boston Marathon Bombing on its 10th Anniversary
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It was Marathon Monday. The Boston Marathon bombs went off at 2:49 pm on April 15, 2013. The Boston community was shocked and shattered in what was a horrific and terrible day for those who lived there. As I recall that horrible day, I realize I was standing a few yards away from the bomb near the finish line that ruined many people’s lives. About 30 minutes before that bomb went off, something told me to leave, to go home. And to this day I wonder, was it my guardian angel or my intuition? I’ve been reluctant to share this story as it was quite traumatic at the time. But now 10 years later, I’m here to share that story.
It was a chilly Patriot’s Day morning on Monday, April 15, 2013 in Lexington, MA. I started the day enjoying a Revolutionary War reenactment where the British and the Minutemen confronted each other on the Battle Green, the first troops fell, and where the “Shot heard round the world” was memorialized. I decided to bring a small folding step stool that allowed me to stand behind and a little above the crowd for a better view of the battle. I then posted photos of the event that morning on Facebook so family and friends knew I was there. After a stop at home to change clothes, I drove into the city to watch the 117th running of the Boston Marathon.
I headed into Boston toward Newbury Street thinking I would have trouble finding parking in the city but low-and-behold, I found a spot near Fairfield Street. This was exciting as I was very close to Boylston Street where the final stretch of the 26.2-mile running race occurs. While the race began around 9:30 am for elite women and 10:00 am for elite men, I arrived just in time (around 11:30 am) to see the women finish and then the men soon thereafter.
I stationed myself about 20 feet in front of Marathon Sports at 671 Boylston Street and behind the packed crowd that was already there beside the finish line and the flags. In order to get a good view of the runners and knowing that it would be difficult to get anywhere near the front row, I again brought my short step-stool that elevated me about a foot above the crowd, just enough to give me a great view of the runners and the spectators. I was doing what thousands of others were doing, cheering on the 23,000 wonderful athletes who had trained hard to compete in this historic running event. The extra elevation also allowed me to hang back behind the main thrust of the crowd, about six rows from the front. Behind me, there was an open space between me and the front of Marathon Sports where people travelled up and down the sidewalks.
As I cheered, I took numerous photos of the runners and my surroundings. I texted some of the photos to friends and family as it was quite an exciting time. I stayed for about two and a half hours until the finish-line clock showed close to four hours and counting. I became hungry as I hadn’t eaten lunch and it was getting close to mid-afternoon. I walked to the Firehouse Sub shop (that has since closed) planning to pick up a sandwich and go directly back to my position in front of Marathon Sports and behind the flags at the finish-line.
Then something bizarre happened. As I entered the sandwich shop, I suddenly had a strong sensation that pushed me back out of the shop and insisted that I go home. “Go home” my subconscious mind was telling me. I cannot explain this then or now, but I simply left and headed home. And within the hour, I realized how fortunate I was that I did.
By the time I got to my house, I received texts from my sister and a couple of friends asking me if I was okay. I thought they were just responding to the reenactment photos I posted of muskets firing earlier that morning and were meant to be funny. I was confused about what they were texting me, until my sister messaged me to turn on the television.
The first image that I saw were the flags getting blown out near the finish line of the marathon. I was temporarily in shock then horrified to see what happened to the crowd behind the flags, so many innocent people that I had cheered with were hurt. I later learned that 3 had died and over 260 were wounded. Then I grew angry! Who could have done this unspeakable violence?
Abruptly, I was rocked back into reality when I realized the fact that I was in that very same crowd where the greatest amount of harm had occurred. I would have certainly been a victim and most likely, I would have been dead, lost a limb, or sustained very serious injuries because I was located at the back of the crowd no more than 10 feet from where the bomb went off. According to the reports, the bomb was a pressure cooker filled with shrapnel including nails and ball bearings that would have shredded me as it did the numerous innocent victims that were there.
Afterward, I sent my photos to the FBI as they had a request to submit crowd photos in the areas of the bombs. Later, I got together with the Wayland community where I worship including the many religious institutions (churches, temple, and mosque), the Wayland Police, and more groups, where we mourned together, prayed together, gave blood together, and fundraised money for the victims. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of Boston, where the police, the healthcare providers, and the collective community worked together to repair the damage of that day. Ten years later, we continue to cheer on the runners who are racing the Boston Marathon, being prouder than ever to call Boston our home, stronger than ever, Boston Strong.
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