The coverage trickled in over the last few months, and now it’s on the BBC World News. The Marathon, the bombing, a year later, a year stronger. The anniversary, today April 15, and then next week, the marathon itself, April 21. These dates rattle around in my head, as does where I was last year.
Because, you see, I just found out I was pregnant. Or, rather Marathon Monday was the seventeenth day of knowing I had a little life growing inside of me.
A year ago, I talked about how great the day was, running through the Abrorentum with friends, making signs the night before. How perfect the blue sky over Boston was. How perfect, amazing and inspiring it is to gather along the streets of Boston and the suburbs to cheer for a handful of loved ones, but mostly strangers who came to run our pretsigous marathon.
But then in an instant, bags were dropped, two men walked away, and lives were utterly transformed. Limbs were lost, blood was spilled. Lives were taken. Kristy and Lu, two young women, and Martin, an 8 year old boy from Dorchester, cheering with his family.
In an instant, a drop, a flash, an explosion, destruction, smoke, fear, confusion, panic. Questions, confusion, and then healing. Love and kindness.
As we walked away from the course last year, fielding calls and texts, I must have touched my stomach and wondered about this little person. Fearful about what else may unfold that day, and would we be safe. We, being the fetus and myself. And fearful of the world in which I was bringing a child. Her home city, her birth place, her mother’s favorite day- a tragedy, a heartbreaking loss. I felt superstitious thinking about our fetus, and it may have been the first time I thought of her and her life- worrying about getting her to the other side safely. (I say her, because Beatrice is a she, but at the time, we didn’t know the sex of the babe, and really, I was like 8 weeks pregnant and I’m pretty sure the sex organs weren’t even formed yet.)
She’s now nearly 4 months old, still a newborn, but more of a little person who clearly has a personality and preferences. 4 months going on 18 years, it feels like in my heart. Boston has shown itself to us in new ways in the past year.
My cousin came to visit at the end of April and we went to visit the marathon memorial in front of Copely. A woman stood sobbing, looking at the sneakers, the crosses, the flags, all the notes of love displayed in front of her. I looked at her, and asked “Do you want a hug?” and she nodded. We embraced, strangers, as tears formed in my own eyes. Little person inside of me, this is how humanity should be. This is how to be a person. This is what heals.
My husband and I went to the Red Sox parade, a crisp October morning, 7 months pregnant. We sat in the Garden, taking in the morning, watching tourists snap photos of each other, before cheering alongside kids on their dad’s shoulders, waving to their favorite players. Before turning our faces to the confetti falling from the sky and saying, thank you, we really needed this.
And mostly in the last few months, I’ve been introduced to a community of other moms and families, all navigating this sleepless new terrain, offering each other kindness and compassion, coffee and wine, and laughter.
And this doesn’t even mark the daily moments of seeing neighbors, impromptu dinner parties with friends, chatting on stoops, and all the other small things that make up a community.
And next week, we’ll see it again in the tradition of the Boston Marathon. We’ll load up the stroller with her sign “My first marathon!” snacks and water, and head to Brookline to cheer.
Beatrice won’t remember this day, but I’m excited to share it with her. Show her how a community comes together to celebrate their own, and how it is done in the face of tragedy. How kindness to strangers is a beautiful act. How watching people run a marathon is humbling and inspiring. Perhaps, one day she’ll look back on photographs of us taken that day, of her in the stroller or carrier, watching the activity around her. A gummy smile, her mop of hair, hopefully the sun on her cheeks and see those things we wanted to give her, to help her see the beauty of humanity, the kindness of people, and the resilience of the human spirit.