My heart is broken for so many people. Those who were killed, those who were injured, and all who know and love them. And – albeit on a different level – for those who, like my cousin Tara, and several of my friends on our Marathon Team, were about to complete their first marathon when all hell broke loose.
Many people will have their stories of where they were when it happened, and this is mine. It was one of the scariest times of my life, and I know I’m still in shock because I haven’t really broken down yet…
I was there, in the heart of it. In fact, had Gail, the friend I was with, not had to go to the bathroom, we may not be here right now. You see, we were rushing from Mile 14 to the finish line, where we had VIP passes, including to the grandstand. I drove, with Gail, Derek from NORD, and David and Doug, our photographers, and the closest parking I could think of was at the Prudential Center. There was a bit of a back-up getting in, and we wanted to capture as many images as possible of our Marathon Team runners crossing the finish line, so I let David, Doug and Derek out of the car just before entering the garage; Gail said she’d stay and keep me company – thank goodness she did.
We found a parking spot pretty quick and were hurrying to get out onto Boylston St. so we could get over to the VIP area and see the rest of our runners finish – a few were getting close according to the text messages. But as we headed out of the Pru, Gail asked if we could take a detour and go to the ladies room first. So back we went and stood in line, waiting, got through it, and then were back on our way out to the street.
All of the sudden, we heard the boom, and knew instantly something bad happened. And then, as people all looked at each other and then started toward the windows to see what it could be, smoke appeared out the window. And then, everyone in front of us – seemingly hundreds of people – all turned toward us and started running and screaming “Run, run, run” – so we turned and ran for our lives. We locked arms to try to run together, scared that we’d be separated. All I could think of while I ran was that it must be gunmen; that someone first set a bomb, were armed, too, and they were coming into the Pru. So we ran as fast as we could, along with everyone else, cutting through the food court, pushing chairs and tables out of the way, anything to get out the side doors and away from danger.
Only outside we went, and saw the smoke. And the screaming. And the police were not far behind, pushing us away from the finish line, and the stands, and then ambulances were in front of us, and runners were next to us. They were as confused as us and we were all trying to piece it all together… then we were being told we needed to completely evacuate the area, and we had to go toward Mass Ave. One cop looked at us and said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t know how many more are in this area, so we have to get you all out so you can be safe.” So we went.
And along the way we tried both to update our loved ones, as well as to check on our runners and friends in the stands. From where the ambulances were, and the smoke, it appeared that it was all on the actual course, so we were most concerned about the runners. I tried a few times to call my son, my parents, and our photographers, but couldn’t get a line out. Texts weren’t being reliable either – kept getting held up. Luckily, my blackberry e-mail was working. I immediately went into crisis mode, updating our senior leadership team, partnering with Lisa in Corp Comm to make sure all of our runners and onlookers at the finish line were safe. It took many emails, texts and phone calls from various people over a couple of hours – all the while being constantly pushed further away from the scene, and praying my iphone, portable charger and blackberry would hold their charges – but we were able to confirm all were ok. I was even able to stand on top of one of the cement pillars at the Mass Ave. underpass and actually see Phil, Andrew and Shane, which filled me with a bit of relief.
Once we knew all were safe, and learned our photographers were just about back to Allston, we decided to head to my apartment where my cousin and her family and friends were, and Gail could be picked up from there. Nearly the entire way, past Kenmore Square, by BU, there were police swarming the streets, and sirens constantly going. We stopped quickly at Sunset to hug Nick (he was working), and then walked the rest of the way home and collapsed.
It’s all just surreal. It was like a movie, not like it really happened. The evening has gone by in a blur. Once things started going through there were so many texts and voicemails – and I haven’t even seen facebook yet. In the middle of it all, when I knew the texting and calls weren’t working I did a mass post to my facebook, twitter and linked in accounts so all would know we were ok. I can’t even express how much I appreciated so many people checking on us…
Gail and I hugged many times as she left, both so thankful we had each other through it all. I can’t imagine going through all that alone.
After a quick bite to eat, I was told the Pru garage was open. So Tara and I took a drive down there and found out that is most certainly not true. The National Guard (Army guys) or police are blocking off all the surrounding streets. When we got to the corner by the Pru, we asked, and explained the garage people told us we could get it, they said absolutely not – they’re not even letting anyone walk on those streets, let alone drive on them. Maybe tomorrow.
Or, I guess, now looking at the clock, later today. So that is my story. I know there are things I left out, my mind is a jumble, and my heart is so very heavy… but I am above all else thankful to still be here, for diverting our path at just the right time, and that all we know are safe. And so devastated for those who are not as lucky…