I’ve Been Thinking … Together Moving Forward
Walking up to the Seaport World Trade Center Boston to claim my husband, Jeff’s, bib for the 122nd Boston Marathon, I saw a banner depicting a sentiment that resonated with me the entire weekend and will perhaps for the rest of my life – “Together Forward.” Seeing those two words, so bold and large, immediately brought tears to my eyes because they truly embody how I arrived at this very place; together with my faith, the support of my family and friends, and by choosing to move forward with each day.
On April 15th, 2013, I stood at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, awaiting Jeff. Instead, I witnessed the horror that claimed three precious lives, gravely injured hundreds and scarred many more with post-traumatic stress disorder. I previously shared my story last year in My Marathon Towards Healing.
Despite the tragedy, Jeff expressed his desire to return and finally cross that finish line, but he wanted me there. This was not an easy decision to make. Yet, with the close of last year, we decided to return together.
The marathon quickly approached, and I found myself reflecting back on the pain I’ve endured these past five years. I never anticipated the mental toll this anniversary would cost me, feeling overwhelmed with PTSD symptoms. I wanted to be there, but doubt about my progress and strength inundated my mind. This coupled with the pressure of bringing our kids with us was too much to carry alone. I had to decide to embrace this experience and lean on my faith to carry me through.
I also had newfound comfort in my survivor family. Over this past year, I’ve built beautiful relationships with survivors of various terrorist attacks. I have learned so much from their healing and lean on them often for support. Together with survivors, we shared the April 15th anniversary at a memorial that took place at the site of the bombing and later at a private luncheon with hugs and tears. Being with them filled my heart with peace and strength.
The forecast for Marathon Monday was not promising for the runners. Though I never doubted Jeff would finish, I knew he would face a challenging day. He trained entirely in sunny Arizona and was going to brave the worst weather the marathon had seen in 40 years–rain, cold, and unrelenting wind. My kids and I made our way down to Boylston Street with plenty of time to see Jeff finish, but heightened security prevented us from reaching the finish line. After jumping through puddles and braving crowds, we were forced to wait near the medical tents. Yet, the disappointment of not being at the finish line melted away the instant I saw the joy of accomplishment on Jeff’s face. We shared an embrace that only a couple who had endured these past five years could, filled with unconditional love, incredible joy, and immeasurable relief. Equally as special was having our children present to witness this moment. We want them to see us set big goals, face difficulty with grace, and conquer great challenges. We both did this that day, and I hope they never forget it.
Jeff finishing the marathon marks the end of a chapter in our lives. One that has us moving forward the best way we know how–together.
To learn more about my story and how I am making a difference by helping others who are living with PTSD please visit www.stillbloomingme.com.