Thursday, April 9, 2015

Countdown to Boston: Then and Now

On April 20, 2014, as a BAA volunteer from packet stuffing day, we were invited to take the field at Fenway in this moving pre-game ceremony.

I wrote about the event that is forever imprinted in my heart along with a recap of Marathon Monday in Journey Well:
A Sore Throat - A Full Heart - A City That IS Boston Stronger
April 22, 2014

The 2014 Boston Marathon is in the books. The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings is behind us. Today orange Boston Marathon jackets, smiles and medals abound along with that tell tale post-marathon walk. The City is calm and there is a sense of exhaustion, relief, joy and a quiet celebration that we made it through and will continue to make it through moving through healing.

The 5-year anniversary of our 2009 Boston Marathon run was on Sunday and what a celebration we had taking the field at Fenway Park. We were part of a corps of 50 volunteers representing the 10,000 BAA volunteers who are the epitome of support crew for the Boston Marathon. There was a pre-game ceremony to honor the Boston Marathon. There was commemoration and celebration; a look back and a look ahead to the running of the 118th Boston Marathon.

The group of runners representing the 36,000 runners, sporting Boston Strong t-shirts ran out onto the field ahead of our group of volunteers. The front of the pack of volunteers took off running onto the field. I sprinted in a way I never had before being carried by the energy of the crowd and those surrounding me. Until Sunday night, every other survivor or survivor's family had been honored at Fenway Park during the past year except the family of Boston University graduate student, Lingzi Lu. They gathered around the mic in centerfield as the Fenway announcer said that it was time to move forward; to play our national past time and run the race that belongs to Boston. With incredible equanimity and grace, her family said, "Play ball!" I still get goose bumps remembering that moment. We took our seats in the stands but were so cold with only our volunteer jackets on that we left after a few innings. Besides, we had to get up early on Marathon Monday....

Last year we were emerging from the shock of what happened on 4/15/13 and embracing the joy of running once again on the 3rd Monday in April.

This year, we are settling into a new normal finding ways to honor and commemorate the events of 4/15 while moving forward in healing and in our lives.

As I watched the video, Jeff Baumann's wife Erin had a baby bump and now Jeff and Erin are the proud parents of a beautiful little girl. Carlos and Melida have created the Arredondo Family Foundation to support people affected by tragedy and to address the mental health needs of the military and their families especially as it pertains to suicide. Heather Abbott will launch her Heather Abbott Foundation the Sunday before the Marathon to support especially women amputees and their needs for prosthetics.

Counting down to Boston, we are also counting down to the two year anniversary of 4/15/13.

Yet we are also living in the moment, experiencing the fullness of life with the myriad of emotions that accompany anniversary time side by side with celebrating the healing and all that we have discovered about ourselves and each other; celebrating how we have learned to thrive and journey well!

1 week 2 days 4 hours 8 minutes and counting....

My latest book, "Journey Well" is now available on Amazon along with all of my inspirational books. 50% of book proceeds are donated to the Massachusetts Resiliency Center, a safe, welcoming space for survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing to heal and stay in touch with one another; a virtual hub for a widely dispersed community whose lives have been impacted by the tragic events of April 15th and the events that followed.

When terror struck the world's oldest and most beloved marathon on April 15, 2013, it was a defining moment in Mary McManus’ life and the lives of all those in Boston and around the world. It was her wake up call to return to the sport and community that have been medicine and a lifeline for her throughout her marathon of healing the late effects of paralytic polio and experiencing 9 years of domestic violence as a child and adolescent. Mary captures the essence of Boston Strong through her experience of the 2014 Boston Marathon and as she profiles the people who are Boston Stronger. Through her blog posts, poems and journal entries woven together with excerpts from her memoir, “Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility,” you will experience, through one woman’s journey of transformation and healing, that no matter what happens to us, we can all learn to journey well.

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