Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One Month

One month ago now I was sleepless at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston.  I had to wake in a few short hours, but I couldn't get to sleep.  I was overflowing with excitement.  It was Marathon Monday!  I had been waiting all year for this.  Soon I would be in Hopkinton, and a few hours later I would be back in Boston with another marathon completed

I had no way of knowing this was but the first of over 20 sleepless nights

During the days after the marathon, I did a lot of reflecting.  On those slow and painful recovery runs, I was running for Boston.  As I lay in bed tossing and turning, I could think only of Boston.  As days turned into a week I started to worry.  I needed to come to terms with everything that had happened.  So I started writing (or typing - I don't know what pen and paper is anymore)...

At first I was writing for myself, trying to dig through my thoughts and figure out what was holding me back.  As I sorted through my notes, I realized I had a story to tell.  I usually keep my emotions close, and hesitate to share too much with anyone, so this was very out of character for me.  Everything I wrote was deeply personal, at first I couldn't believe I was thinking of sharing it

But then I realized something: it wasn't my inner strength that would allow me to rebound here - it was others strength.  This was significant for two reasons:

1) If I guarded my emotions so closely, how could anyone help me recover?
2) Maybe what I had been going through could also help someone else who has been suffering through this

So I organized my thoughts, into the posts you see below.  Things will make more sense reading from the bottom up, but I left it in blog form anyways.  This 'recovery' is an ongoing process, it is not over.  I am at peace now, but that doesn't mean I will ever forget what happened.  It changed my life in ways I may not understand for a long time.  There will be more here as I strive to find ways to honor the fallen and support the struggling

I share this here in the hope that those who have supported me through this can get a glimpse of why this meant so much to me, why this was so difficult for me, and why I am so thankful for their help

I share this here in the hope that my words find their way to someone somewhere who needs them, to find their own peace. 

The media has moved on, but there are folks out there who can't.  There are folks out there who still need support.  Some may just be afraid to say it.  Both the physical injuries and the psychological traumas folks experienced a month ago were life altering, and all of us need the continuing support that we saw in the days following the blasts

Let's move on as a nation, as a people.  But let's not leave anyone behind.  We are in this together.  We are stronger together.  Lend an ear to listen, or a shoulder to cry on and be there to provide the emotional support that many still need.  If you are looking for a way to help, donate what you can, or convince your business to hold an event, or do a day during which proceeds will be donated to the victims.  The One Fund has raised a lot of money, but it isn't nearly enough to pay for all of the lifelong support many of the victims will need.  Stay Boston Strong.  Not just for a few days, but always

For most of us, this is just another tragedy that happened in the past.  For some, barely one month in, this is still the beginning

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Take Back the City

I don't run away from a challenge.  I confront it.  And I conquer it.

As soon as I started thinking of going back to Boston, I knew this was what I needed.  The more I thought of going back the stronger that desire became.  At first I figured I'd go back in June, but that wasn't enough.  I needed it NOW

I knew that day that I could do nothing, but sometimes the subconscious is not so reasonable.  Part of me could not forgive myself.  Despite not actually living in Boston for about eight years now, I still call Boston home.  I always will.  So why, when my city needed heroes, did I run away?  I needed to go back to Boston, to contribute to her healing in some small way and to remind myself of why I love her and why she is worth fighting for.  I needed to return home, and scream "This is our f@#$ing city! Stay Strong" at the top of my lungs

I reached out.  The folks at JetBlue responded.  Suddenly a trip which had been financially unattainable became possible.  I was going back to Boston!!!  I would retake my city!  Just knowing I was going back so soon cast out many of the demons that had been terrorizing my sleep

I flew back for a day, less than 24 hours during which I would try to cram everything I love about the city.  That's not possible, but I would get a lot done.  I didn't sleep the night before... I had to catch a ride to the airport at 3:30am... I'd take a nap on the plane.  And when I woke back up, I would be home again

First, a silver line to green ride journey back to campus.  The silver line wasn't even finished when I moved south, but I certainly do miss reliable public transportation.  I don't drive in Miami, I bike everywhere.  In Boston I biked or T'd it

Now I was really back home: The towers on the Heights, good old Boston College.  Sure a lot had changed (and I'd seen that when I came up for the marathon), but this is what brought me to Boston.  I stopped first at the two places I spent most of my time here:  Alumni Stadium and Conte Forum.  Although this time I wasn't wearing face paint

Next up, a brief self guided tour of campus followed by a visit to the computer lab (which has undergone a few name changes and quite a few cosmetic changes).  Along the way I had the opportunity to say hello to some of the faculty and staff that helped to make my experience at BC so rewarding

Thankfully the heaviest rains passed by mid afternoon, allowing for a nice run along the Charles.  I didn't run during my years in Boston as much as I wish I had, but when I did, this was such a beautiful route!  The only downside of my run was that due to time constraints, I literally had to run carrying everything I'd flown up with.  I'd forgotten over the years just how great this route is: I need to make sure that I run here every time I come back to Boston

I ended my run at the fire station on Boylston.  Deliberately.  The next time I run down Boylston will be next years marathon.  This run was stopped short in honor of all those who had their races cut short, and who will hopefully have the opportunity to finish their marathon next year.  While at the fire station, I took the opportunity to leave a note from myself and the rest of the Miami running community on the marathon banner outside the station:  MIA 4 BOS 1 run

Then it was time for the most emotional part of the day.  Time to walk down Boylston and visit the blast sites as well as the location where I had been at the time.  I'm kind of glad it was drizzling at this point.  That would mask the tears.  I stopped at each of the bomb sites to pay my respects to those injured and killed at those spots, and I stopped in front of the Old South Church, approximately where I would have been when the blasts went off.  I took a few moments to reflect on things and then I screamed "This is our f@#$ing city!  Stay Strong Boston!"  That felt good.  I needed that

Just diagonal across the street in Copley Square was the makeshift memorial site.  It had been a few weeks, and it had been raining so most of the mementos left there had been covered by large plastic sheets.  But all the same it was an incredibly emotional site.  I saw one little item, done in about the size of a runners bib.  It read "My body is here; but my thoughts and prayers are with BOSTON!"  Finally my mind, body and soul were together again.  Finally I knew I could move on

While at Copley I met up with a few old friends, colleagues from back in the day when I worked for Apple in Boston.   I insisted we have dinner on Boylston, at one of the businesses that would have been effected by the crime scene being closed for so long.  I needed to do just a little to contribute to healing the area

I had hoped to go to an ACC Alumni event at a few Boylston bars, but unfortunately ran out of time.  I had to participate in the most Boston of Boston activities.  My first game at Fenway since moving to Miami!  My family drove up from CT for the game and we spent the next several hours enjoying each others company and pondering if the Red Sox were ever going to show up to that particular game.  Unfortunately they didn't.  We were on the losing end of a football score.  It's ok though, we still had fun, and I'll get to see another game in June anyway

After the game a few of us stopped at the Pour House for a quick drink.  This was an everything Boston trip, so it wouldn't have been complete without a pint of Sam Adams!  Then as my family drove back to CT, I met up with a high school friend in Boston to wind down the night.  It was a weeknight, so there wasn't much going on at 1am.  We decided to head to Chinatown for some late night chow

Finally, over 17 action packed hours after landing at Logan, it was time to start the trip home.  I went back to Logan.  Exhausted, but relieved and at peace, I boarded a flight back to Fort Lauderdale a few hours later and was ready to get back to work when I landed

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this trip.  This trip meant so much because I got to see and do so many of the things that made Boston home for me.  More importantly, this trip meant so much because I got to spend it with lots of people I care about.  Knowing that I have so many people to lean on in times of need means the world.  To my friends and family, and even the people I don't know who were a part of this trip (You rock JetBlue!  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!):  I am honored to have shared this day with you, to have had the opportunity to 'retake the city' surrounded by family and friends.  Thank you all for all you have been to me, then, now and always.

It's time to move on, but never to forget.  I can sleep again, I can return to normalcy.  I got through this with the help and support of so many wonderful people.  Now it's my turn to be part of that, and provide help and support for those who still need it

We are all in this together, and we will all get through this *together*