Nearly two weeks have passed since I last journaled.....So much has happened. First, I want to thank all of you that contacted, visited, dropped things off to Mark while I was away. He is so grateful and appreciative of your time and generosity. Thank you. My last entry was filled with excitement and enthusiasm for the upcoming race, the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, running each step honoring Mark’s courageous fight against his Leukemia and in memory of our dear friend Brett Shaad who had past away after losing his fight against Bacterial Meningitis. Every day that Mark and I talked was so difficult....Mark would repeat, ‘I wish I could have traded places with Brett...he was so young and such a great young man’....and then there would be the tears. When we talked to Brian, Brett’s brother, he asked us not to be sad when we ran past Boston College where Brett had graduated from, but to remember all the wonderful memories shared with him. Then all of a sudden it was race day, our start, and off we ran. 0-5 miles.....Downhill, ‘throw your hands up in the air and yell WEEEEE’, temperature perfect! Through the rural countryside, how beautiful! Then I see the number 8....WOW! that was fast.....whoops! the signs are kilometers. I’ve really only gone 6 miles, Oh, Well......well that’s really 6 miles and one pit stop! 5-10 miles (8-16 km).....Gone through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham....watching them all fly by. Loved the small children that had gathered roadside holding glasses of water, everyone was involved and wanting to help be a part of the race from grandmas and grandpas to newborn babies....everywhere, all along the route....high 5’s every mile (km) of the way!....and one more pit stop!.....oh no!....they affect my finish time! Yikes! So now how I wish I were a camel!
10-15 miles (16-24 km).....Passing through Nantick, Wellesley and Newton....the temperature definitely increasing. Off come the long sleeves! Remember fuel!.....access the knees???....don’t over think it!....OK, maybe time for a tylenol and a water chaser??? Otherwise feeling great! I’ve got this! Nelson at my side and we are both smiling.....he more so as we whiz past the ‘Screaming Tunnel.’ All the Wellesley College girls are 3-4 deep along a mile stretch screaming and holding banners.....‘Kiss me I’m French’, ‘Kiss me I’m Irish’, ‘Kiss me I’m sexually frustrated’....well you get the picture! The greatest surprise was that the “Princesses’s” had had the Wellesley girls make a sign for us.........we read every sign trying to find it! How great was that! Thanks once again ladies....Great Job!!! 15-20 miles (24-32 km)....If only those km’s were miles I’d be done by now!....and before Heartbreak Hill! This is where the fun begins??? I’m starting to feel the hills, although they really aren’t as daunting as I thought they would be. Plus I knew it would be all down hill after mile 21! Yippee! 20-22 miles (24-35 km)....Through Brookline and Boston College and up and over Heartbreak Hill....Yippee!....Beacon Street just ahead. Oh, what’s this, flashing blue lights, What! A pedestrian lady comes into the street talking on the phone and says they are going to stop the race.....what?, is she crazy?!?....I’m thinking they are going to sweep us but that can’t be, we are making great time and now it’s all downhill from here, we’re coasting! Nelson runs over to some of his friends who have come out to cheer us on and are spread along the sidelines but I keep to my course and my time. He comes along side of me and ‘Mom, I want you to be prepared, they are stopping the race’.....what? but our pace time is good? ‘Something terrible has happened at the finish line, there’s been a bomb.’ My first first words were....has anyone been killed? ‘Yes’............ Heartbreak Hill has now become a true heart break of the worst kind.....death, severe injuries and destruction! Terror and Panic! At that moment everything stopped.......the miles we had come seemed lost in a memory and the miles ahead were unobtainable, but what we all did once we were gathered into the medic tent was collectively worry about ALL the others. ‘Others’.....those ‘others’ were, our family and friends and runners waiting at the finish line! Those ‘others’ were those at home trying to reach us, wanting to know that we were OK. I looked down at my phone and Nelson looked at his and he had 68 text messages and many emails and calls. I had 46 text messages and many emails and many calls, from friends and family in the United States and all around Europe. Some I hadn’t talked to in years, some from first grade...it was amazing and so comforting! Our phones were hot! they were literally burning up! Our batteries almost gone! We first called Mark and through sobs and tears we reassured him we were fine. Then it was how to reach everyone the quickest way possible....we both went to our FB sites and dispersed the news that we were OK. Looking around to the others we were standing with, many seemed lost, it was in their glazed and tear filled eyes.....and my own tears streaming down. I turned to the man next to me, Steven. I asked if he was OK? He
shook his head, No. I asked if I could help? He shook his head, No. I saw he was going to break and I hugged him as hard as I could. His daughter had just crossed the finish line....he had learned just before his phone went dead. He now prayed his daughter and his wife, both at the finish line were safe. Nelson found that the victims were being taken to Mass General. My phone still had battery power so we called his office in Los Angeles and asked them to call the hospital for his family and call us back with any news. We were now being escorted into school busses, our identification was now our Bib number....I was now #22316, Nelson #22317.....anytime we moved we had to identify ourselves by our number.....they needed to account for each person in the race. We were given a police escort to Boston College, to St. Ignatius Church on the Boston College Campus. The College and Church that Brett had gone to, how ironic. Once inside we were greeted by police who gave us an update as to what was happening. Boston College students came with battery chargers and the school provided a hot meal. We huddled together, we hugged, consoled and prayed together. There was such an outpouring of emotions. What I reflect back on was the real and genuine concern that we had for each other. I called our hotel to find out about our two new friends from Holland that we had met at the hotel a few days before, Petra and Klazien. They were both at the hotel, one had finished the race and had received her medal and the other not. We cried together with happiness that we were all accounted for and OK. It seemed like hours, but not. A call came in and Stevenâ€™s family was OK, not long after that his daughter made her way to the church....such love, and such a wonderful hug! They clung to each other and cried for joy, true joy! We finally got a text from Rob and Jen that they were all safe....they were in a Sports shop a few blocks away from the finish line engraving medals. There text arrived to great relief. We were so worried because we heard that the sports shop had received damage and people injured from the bomb there. Thank God they were not at that location!....and they were safe! We were once again taken to the buses, and with police escort, taken downtown by the finish line to another shelter, the Castle. We were directed to return to our homes or hotels and stay inside. Nelson and I walked an additional 4 miles to the hotel.....The streets were dark and deserted...like a movie set of a war zone....Once back to the hotel and waiting in the lobby were our Dutch friends with big hugs and tears we greeted one another. I can truly say I have made a few new lifelong friends out of this catastrophe. We are bonded together having shared a life defining event. Usually the day of and day after a race you see everyone wearing their medals.....not this race. Whether out of some silent respect for those that were unable to finish or for those who lost their lives, or were severely injured, there were no medals being worn. There was subdued silence. No one talked about not having been able to complete the race, no one talked about the disaster, no one barely spoke above a whisper. Like the reverent silence in a Synagogue, church, house of prayer.....we were in mourning.... prayerful.
Some people were able to pick up there gear bags the next day before they left and flew home. Some bags still remain unclaimed. Finish times have been adjusted based on their splits and medals available to pick up. Many wait to learn of their fate for a run at next years race. We wait but there is no sense of urgency....we will wait, calmly and know that the BAA has been doing the right things all along and will continue to do so. They have been great! Amazingly great! Will we run?....you bet! We still have our mission to bring home a medal for Mark! That’s our finish line! Little time has passed and yet I wonder if I will ever fully process the events of the last two weeks. I know I will forever remember and know the exact spot the moment I fully understood. The range of emotions that we have been through is immeasurable. What I have learned and take away from all of this?.......The value of a Hug! "You can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug." unknown author. ....’A hug can break down barriers that sometimes words cannot do. At times, it can speak more than any words can say. We bond with a hug. We find comfort with a hug. We greet and separate from each other with a hug. We establish human contact and interaction with a hug. The beauty of a hug is in its simplicity. The gesture towards another human being, known or unknown, is easy. It costs nothing but a simple act of caring and kindness. The benefits, like a brighter day and a stronger heart, are priceless!’....... I have also learned that first responders are amazing! Those are the police, the medics, the firefighters, the military, the bomb squad members, the hospital staff, the event emergency teams, the volunteers and those ordinary citizens and neighbors that jump in to help and assist....all are Heroes! There’s a thin line and a short amount of time between life and death in the aftermath of a disaster like the bombing in Boston. Amazing courage and selflessness was shown by the people who broke down the marathon barriers to assist the injured seconds after the bombs went off. It’s the doctors and police and firefighters and nurses who had just run in the marathon and then volunteered to help. It’s the runners that ran all the way to the hospitals to donate blood. All of these responders leapt into action and that restores my faith in people and defines a Hero to me. I have also had my eyes open to how incredibly organized the Boston Athletic Association is. Thank you. The city of Boston was ready and their emergency preparedness was the best. Thank you. The day after the Marathon I took a train to Maine to be with close friends and they were my rock! The hugs were strong and long.....the best medicine! The next day we enjoyed a three mile walk around the Back Bay of Portland on a beautiful day! I wore my Boston Marathon shirt and people going past gave the thumbs up....a silent salute and remembrance. We returned back to their home and Nancy had the misfortune to have to tell me that Madi, my beautiful Westie, had passed away. I was devasted and wanted to get away from the little dark cloud that was hovering above me.....I felt terrible for
Mark, he had to take her to the emergency hospital as she went into multiple seizures. They induced a coma but she was not going to make it. Mark was my hero, he would not leave her side.....she was never left alone. We are truly left with a hole in our hearts. Just when I thought I could not cry anymore I was proven wrong! So many tragedies and so, so many tears. Things weren’t over yet!....Friday morning came and I took the 5:00 AM train to Boston. One or two stops into the trip and everything stopped! The conductor appeared and said he was not going to use the PA and needed to talk to everyone so that we fully understood, the train would not be going into Boston. The entire MBTA was closed and Boston was in lockdown, everyone in there homes were to stay in and locked in! Hutch and Nancy told me that Hutch would come to pick me up and we made a run to the airport. Mark needed me as we were to leave for Stanford and his testing for a new research program. Driving into the airport was like entering a war zone.....I haven’t ever seen weaponry like I saw there....they looked like missile launchers, military trucks, vans, cars, Bomb sniffing dogs, handguns, in mass! Each car was searched. Inside the airport security was on high alert. My flights were changed and as I sat at every gate waiting for each of my legs the TV’s were crowded with people eager to learn the fate of the lone bomber. Finally Cheers! He was apprehended! Greatest news ever.... Saddest news ever are the many stories I continue to read or hear about concerning the many victims and their families. I will pray for them all....and after May 1st I will donate blood for the victims, many of whom will go through many more surgeries....Mark and Nelson and I will continue to pray for their strength and health. Mark was able to get to his various appointments at Stanford Hospital on Monday and Tuesday. He had 20 vials of blood taken, dye contrast scans, a bone marrow biopsy and chip of bone removed in his hip bone....we go again on Monday for more tests! Happy for the opportunity and anxious to learn if he gets accepted into the next research project. We will have to wait about a week to learn if he has been selected. We thank you so much for all the concern and love you have shown to Mark. It’s your warmth and encouragement that keeps him going. Still we ask for all your prayers...some for Mark and some for the victims of the Boston Bombing and their families. I will keep you all informed of our next move.....God willing, it will be as part of a new research program for the fight against Leukemia. Dianne...............XO......OOOOOOOO, remember, a hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away. ~Bil Keane, “Family Circus”; Hugs are the universal medicine. ~Author Unknown; A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown …A hug is an amazing thing It’s just the perfect way To show the love we’re feeling But can’t find the words to say…. ~Johnny Ray Ryder, Jr., “A Simple Hug”
In support and in honor of the victims and their families