On April 15, 2013 I made a choice- one that would affect the rest of my life- to run towards.
I wasn’t even supposed to run that day. Three weeks before the marathon I ruptured a tendon, which fractured a bone in my foot. But, doctors make the worst patients and my whole family was coming to town.
So, at 6:30AM I laced up my running shoes, overdosed on ibuprofen and boarded a bus with my dad for Hopkinton, Massachusetts.
My father and I have run together for 10-years. This was going to be our last race and we had family waiting at the finish line.
Making our way over the first 26-miles we laughed, grimaced and cursed. Then, only blocks from the finish line, we heard an explosion… and another.
This wasn’t fireworks, people were screaming. Something had gone horribly wrong. Almost without thought, I left my dad and ran towards.
Outmaneuvering police, I jumped barricades and entered the chaos.
With smoke in the air and a metallic tang in my nose I realized my city was bleeding. I had to stop it.
I performed CPR on a woman- beautiful, but lifeless. After the ambulance took her away I realized my family was somewhere nearby. Were they one of the bodies laid out on Boylston Street?
I continued work- tourniqueting and triaging everyone in my path. Only stopping when police physically forced me off the street.
Covered in blood I stumbled home to reach a phone and make sure my family was safe.
The days following the events were a blur of media interviews, long sleepless nights and a growing guilt.
It wasn’t until months later, when speaking at the Cambridge Public Library, that I discovered a new choice I had to make.
After stepping off stage a woman pulled me aside and said, “I was running that day too. The victims at the finish line were there cheering for me. So tell me, how can I be Boston Strong when I’m so weak, so sad.”She felt the same guilt I had. We shared tears before I gave my response.
That day taught me something. Every person has a choice. Run towards, or run away.
To me Boston Strong is the collective will of our city. To run towards healing, run towards recovery, run towards this year’s race, together.
Confronting the fear that consumes you is the only way to destroy it.
Like the decision I made to run towards the explosions, I am now making the decision to move on. To wake up every day forgive and be hopeful.
We must be heroes for each other. The choice we must make- run towards.