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April 15, 2013- 2:30 P.M.
I am sitting on the couch in our living room, computer open to my always full email, the t.v. on the news coverage of the annual Boston Marathon. As a fellow runner this event always interests me; my goal one day is to finally be able to run the entire marathon. I tell myself every year, this year I will run the Boston Marathon, and every year I chicken out. I have a feeling next year will be the year I finally do it.
My husband Rory and I usually go and sit near the finish line every year. This year however I decided I needed to stay home and get work done. Work is crazy and I feel like everyone is relying on me to solve every problem that arises and I could not convince myself to put work on hold for one day.
Rory still decided to go and meet up with two of our close friends near the finish line anyway. I told him to go. I did not want him to stay home because of my chaos. He tried to argue with me about it but I insisted. Once I make my mind up I am set; do not try to change my mind.
I close my computer for a second and turn my attention to the t.v. as the commentator says people are approaching the finish line. This is my favorite part and I do not want to miss it.
April 15, 2013- 2:49 P.M.
My eyes cannot believe what I just saw. My t.v. screen is filled with chaos. People screaming, running, smoke covering the area. Police running around trying to figure out what is going on. All I can do is stare. I never thought what I just witnessed could actually happen.
Two bombs just went off at the finish line of The Boston Marathon.
My husband was at the finish line of The Boston Marathon.
I do not know if he is alive, hurt or completely fine.
The only thought that runs through my head is to leave and find out for myself if my husband is okay.
I do not care if I am allowed to go anywhere near the finish line...but I am going to get there.
April 15, 2013- 2:55 P.M.
I am driving through town, trying to not break down. I am constantly calling Rory but every call goes straight to voicemail. The only thought that runs through my head is that he has to be okay. There is no other answer. My Rory is alive; my Rory is uninjured;my Rory is waiting for me to come get him; My Rory will be coming home with me.
One tear leaves my eye and begins to fall down my cheek. I did not realize I had begun to cry. I wipe the tear away and try to pull myself together. I need to stay strong; that is what Rory would want.
I drive to as far as I can before traffic hits and ways are blocked off. I am still about 6 miles from the finish line. That’s okay, I can begin my search here and make my way closer and closer to the finish line. I know I will not be able to actually reach the finish line, but I am hopeful that I can get close enough to find my Rory.
I quickly exit my car and begin to run. I just run, run past the other cars, past everyone else just standing in confusion and sadness. I run, my heart beating out of my chest, running faster than I ever thought I could. The adrenaline running through my veins. The only thing running through my mind is Rory. I am fighting through the chaos of people to find him, to bring him home. I push back the tears that are once again trying to escape my eyes. I do not have time to cry. Rory is waiting for me to find him, I know it.
I do not know exactly where to look or what to do. All I know is that my feet will carry me to Rory.
My feet will lead me to the love of my life. To the man I would do anything for, who I would sacrifice everything for. The man who needs me right now, wherever he might be. I am coming for you Rory, do not worry.
April 13, 2013-3:20 P.M.
I am still running, pushing past people to try to find him, asking random people if they have any idea if they know where Rory is. I know they have no clue who I am looking for, they are focused on getting themselves safe and finding their loved ones. I am just holding out hope they have ran into him and he was looking for me or a way to reach me.
I have had no luck.
I have not given up yet.
I will not give up.
I keep running and looking. I am approaching the end of mile 20, I can see the mile marker for mile 21 in the near distance. I have covered almost a mile. That is one less mile for me to cover, I am getting closer to finding him. I know in my heart he is somewhere in the last six miles I know it. I like to call this feeling I have spouse’s intuition. Rory and I are connected. We always know when the other is hurt or upset, or excited. What the person is doing, without even having to talk to one another.
That’s why I know he is okay and is waiting for me. I know it.
April 13, 2013-3:35 P.M.
“Have you seen this man?” I ask another random stranger that I pass by, holding up a picture I brought with me.
“Sorry honey, no. Even if I did I have passed so many people I would not be able to tell you,” the stranger tells me.
“It’s okay, thank you anyway,” I tell her and continue to rush around, looking for any indication where he might be.
I sit on the sidewalk to rest for a second. I pull out my phone to see if I any missed calls from Rory. I am greeted with a black screen, I try to turn my phone on...no luck, its dead. Even if he did call I would have no idea.
I begin to cry. It starts with a single tear dripping down my cheek. I do not try to stop it this time. I am letting myself break down. The realization that he may not be okay sets in. If he really was close to the finish line, the worst could have happened. Not only to him but also our two friends. I feel guilty. The man I care do deeply about, who I would do anything for could really be gone. I could be searching for this crowd for nothing.
I was the one who told him to go.
He wanted to stay home with me.
I made him go without me.
I was supposed to be there like every year.
I could have cost him his life, our friends lives.
I am full of guilt at this point. If only he had stayed home and watched it on t.v. with me. We could be home safe together right now. Instead I am a sweaty mess sitting on the dirty sidewalk crying.
I think back to our conversation before he left this morning. He was still trying to stay home with me and I was still being stubborn, insisting he just leave already. After he finally gave up he was telling me his plans. Where he was going to be and what they were going to do after if I decided to join them.
Then something hits me.
April 13, 2013- 7:30 A.M.
“Are you positive you do not want come,” Rory asks me one final time before heading upstairs to finish getting ready.
“I am positive, you go and have fun. I have to get some work done. I will watch it from the comfort of our couch,” I tell Rory going back to eating my cereal.
“Okay then, well if you decide to change your mind we are watching somewhere else this year. Its right around Heartbreak Hill,” Rory tells me coming over to give me a kiss on the cheek.
“Why the change this year?” I ask him, my mouth full of cereal.
“Amanda heard that you can have great view of the race and it is much less crowded,” He answers, before heading up the stairs.
April 13, 2013-3:45 P.M.
It was around mile 21. I am around mile 21. I stand up and begin to look around.
Behind me is Newton City Hall. I see people coming in and out in large groups. People hugging and crying reuniting.
I begin to run to the building. The building where Rory has to be, where he has to be safe.
April 13, 2013-3:49 P.M.
I reach the building, running inside. I begin to call his name. I call it again and again.
I hear my name.
“HARPER, HARPER, HARPER”
I turn around and fall to my knees and cry. Rory, he is okay. Not one scratch on him.
He joins me on the ground and hugs me and begins to cry as well.
I do not say anything. He does not say anything. We just sit in each other’s company. I am in disbelief that this happening. He is okay. I try to tell him what happened but he just shushes me. He says we can talk about it later.
Everything that happened today hits me at once. The fact that I ran through a sea of people and took the chance that another attack could have happened sets in. I took the risk to find Rory, and I succeeded.
We get up and walk to our friends. Together we exit the building and begin our journey home. Together, all safe.
I do not let go of Rory the entire walk back to the car. I never let go of his hand during the drive. I never want to let him go again. I feel horrible about what happened, like it was all my fault. Dip down I know it wasn’t but I feel responsible for putting him through that.
April 13, 2013-4:30 P.M.
“I should have never let you go without me, I should have went. It was all my fault. If you had gotten injured or worse I do not know what I would have done,” Rory and I are sitting on the couch as I am going on about how guilty I feel. My eyes are overflowing with tears. All my emotions are hitting me once again and I cannot control it.
“Stop talking like that. None of this was your fault. I made the choice to go. None of what happened was in your control. Stop blaming yourself,” Rory says to me with his sweet kind voice, while looking into my eyes. Once again we are holding hands.
I curl up into his side. My legs curled up into my chest, his arm around me. I do not want to leave the position. There is nothing on the t.v., no music playing, no talking. We sit in a comfortable silence, appreciating that we still have each other. Earlier today I thought I could never do this again and I am going to take advantage that I still can.
April 21, 2014-2:49 P.M.
I am breathing heavy, my legs feeling like jello. I want to give up, but I won’t. I see the finish line. Just a couple more feet and I have done it. A year after I didn’t think I could do it. A year after I thought I had lost my husband.
I cross the finish line. I begin to cry, this year they are happy tears.
I run to Rory. This year I know exactly where he is. I know that he is okay.