Grad reflects on Boston bombings

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written and published by Stephanie Walker, ’08, on April 17 following the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon. She was a participant in the marathon as a member of the Boston Bruins Foundation marathon team and was about five miles away from the finish line when the bombing occurred. Walker, who was a journalism major and member of the field hockey team while at Rider, is currently a paralegal at a law firm in Boston. Read her full blog here. This post was titled, “The Beginning of Healing.”

Stephanie Walker, ’08, was about five miles from the finish line when the Boston bombing occurred.

In the days that have followed what is now known to the world as the Marathon Bombing, I find myself still at a loss of words. A loss of feeling. A loss in so many different ways.

Waking up Tuesday morning, I found it hard to even leave my bed — soreness and aches from having run aside, my heart was heavy. The place I called home was shadowed by some cowardly act of hate during an event I was directly a part of.

Although my day Monday had started at 3:45 a.m. less than 12 hours went by and the happiness myself, my family, my friends and my teammates felt faded. Boston will never be the same.

My friends Mindy and Aimee stopped by to visit and helped get me out of bed. Seeing Mindy brought back tears, as I hadn’t seen her since we left work on Friday, and knowing she was so close to the harm that had hit our city, I was so thankful to have her standing in my doorway. The relief to see each other I feel was mutual. The two of them were exactly what I needed. We talked through some of the events and I think just being in the presence of one another helped us all.

Later in the day, another friend took me to lunch and we avoided the news and the city and sat alongside the beach outside. The distraction was welcomed with open arms. We had some small talk about the events, but mostly tried to keep the conversation light. When I returned home, I finally allowed myself to fall asleep on the couch and get some sort of rest. As I woke up I couldn’t help but go through Facebook and Twitter and all the emotions flooded right back into me and the tears came back down my face. The questions about how I would ever be able to return to work, only because my office is right near the scene, were running through my head. And it was almost as if my lunch friend knew this, as he mentioned going to the Wrentham Outlets, and I was able to tag along, again distracting myself from any of the thoughts.

I knew when I got home last night that I still wasn’t ready to go back to my office, back to work, and be able to focus on the day to day tasks of being a paralegal. I wasn’t ready to see my co-workers who would undoubtedly ask me about the marathon.

When I woke up Wednesday morning, the reports through social media were still upsetting, still bringing tears to my face, and I still didn’t know what to do with myself. Then I saw that one of my teammates had gone out, and finished what was left of her marathon. It inspired me to do that same.

And then I ran another mile for all my fellow Boston Bruins Foundation teammates who were so close to reaching their goals of finishing, for all other marathoners who didn’t finish, in celebration of all those who did, for those who were directly affected and because that’s what Boston Marathoners do.

When I got home from my run, I was shocked at how good it felt to get back outside and to be out running again. I always knew running was therapeutic to me, but I never knew how much until my run today.

The next thing I knew, my phone was ringing and the Boston Bruins Foundation was calling to ask us to volunteer at the Bruins game tonight to help raise money for the One Fund, the organization set up by the city to help out the victims and their families. I was in.

I originally was going to the game with my sister, as my brother-in-law so kindly offered up his ticket to allow me to be there for the first sporting event in Boston since Monday, but the overwhelming emotion of wanting to see my teammates took over. I hadn’t seen them since we left Hopkinton, smiling and ready for our journey to Boston. I needed to see them.

On my way to the game, I had my first reality check on how changed my city would be. I was stopped by a SWAT car pulling in front of me, followed by six police cars all jumping out to search a vehicle and a person. My heart stopped, skipped and stopped again. All I could do was cry, wonder what was going to happen next and beg for this to please not be real. After finally being allowed to pass, I talked to my parents who furthered along the sentiment that this was going to be more normal. They were doing their jobs, which continued as I entered the parking garage. Every car was searched before being allowed to park.

Then, as I exited the elevator I was greeted by Bob Sweeney, who immediately shook my hand, knowing from my marathon jersey that I was with the foundation and directed me to where I would be able to meet up with my teammates.

I was ecstatic to see them. For the first time in days, I felt a moment of normalcy. We hugged and shared stories and our individual experiences on our marathon journey. It was such a huge relief to see them all and even greater to hear every single one of them state that they wanted to be back next year. I can only hope we can all embark on that journey together.

Joining the BBF Marathon team was the best decision I’ve ever made. I pushed myself further than I ever thought possible and met some pretty amazing people.

Overcoming what has happened to my beloved city is going to take a lot of time, and I may never truly overcome it. There are events that happen that stay with you for the rest of your life, and this is most definitely one of them. As I make my way into work tomorrow, the realization of everything will come at full force and I really don’t know if I’m ready, but then again, it has to happen sooner or later. I still can’t believe this all is real. I’m waiting to wake up from a bad dream, board a bus to Hopkinton and cross that beloved Boston Marathon finish line.

 

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