We Were the Lucky Ones
Image Source: OneBostonDay.org
As you are probably well aware, the fifth anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing was on Sunday. Five years ago, a day that was full of joy and mirth, anxiously awaited by so many, quickly became a day of terror, tragedy and pure, unwavering evil.
The former marlo marketing office, with its unimpeded view of the marathon finish line, was a gathering place for clients, friends and colleagues on Patriots’ Day. It surely instilled a sense of pride for Marlo to watch us stand by the windows, watching triumphant and exhausted runners perform such a remarkable feat. It is by far the best place to be on Marathon Monday; the energy is contagious. But on April 15, 2013, it was in that spot, just yards away from where we stood, that the first bomb detonated, the blast destroying everything in its path. From the second-floor window at which my comrades and I stood, it was a piercing boom and a gust of smoke, alerting us to danger and sending us frantically running toward the fire escape in the back of the office, away from a hazard that was, at that point, unexplained.
My first thought was “the bleachers must have collapsed, people must be hurt.” But, why the smoke? It was only as I reached the back alleyway of the office, clutching my friend and uncontrollably sobbing, that I heard those around me start to say “bomb.” Terrorism never crossed my mind, I suppose because I had never surmised being so close to it.
After meeting up with a few colleagues near the Common and consoling one another, and frantically calling my mom spitting out words like “explosion,” “finish line,” and “I’m okay,” my friend and I decided to walk back to his place in Allston. It felt like we were walking for hours, and it was mostly silent. Somewhere on Comm Ave, we stopped at a coffee shop so I could use the restroom, and people were rejoicing, a mood that felt so foreign. The news had not yet reached them. On the walk, my friend and I furiously Googled and checked our Twitter feeds, trying to find an answer for the questions that had been racing through our minds, and it is then that I saw reports of “one possible casualty… one confirmed casualty… at least two people dead…dozens seriously injured.”
The few days following the bombings are a bit of a blur. I remember watching the news, seeing shots of the outside of our office amidst the coverage of the attack: the blood-smeared sidewalk, the shattered windows, the “marlo” sign we had in the window, hanging sideways by a thin piece of rope. Feeling a strong longing to be close to loved ones, I drove to my parents’ house in New Hampshire, where I grew up, as reports of the alleged terrorists started to surface. I spoke with a member of the FBI on the phone, who was interested in any photos myself or my colleagues had of the crowd. Could the terrorist have been standing outside the whole time? A malicious intruder among so many elated people? Marlo arranged a day for our team to spend together, where we were able to console one another and talk through our fear. We wouldn’t be back to the office for a while, she said.
It was a few days after the bombing that I remembered that just a couple of hours prior to 2:49pm, a few of us had been standing on the street right outside the office. I wondered if I had seen Martin Richard, leaning over the barricades, cheering for the runners. I thought about how, had we chosen to go outside a bit later, things could be dramatically different. But we were okay – we were the lucky ones.
Two years after that wretched day, Mayor Marty Walsh announced a new annual tradition: One Boston Day. “Each year, the day serves as an opportunity to celebrate the resiliency, generosity, and strength demonstrated by the people of Boston and those around the world in response to the tragedy of April 15th, 2013.” April 15th would now be associated with kindness, community and strength. A day of remembering that, among all of the evil that exists in the world, good still endures. I think Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, and Sean Collier would be proud.
Posted by Erin