Three years ago this week, I was pumped. I was up early, enjoying coffee and reading the sports pages. I was catching up on the over night baseball scores, reading Boston Bruins playoff preview stories, checking the season recap for the Celtics and plowing through Patriots roster transactions.
The other sport on my mind was the Boston Marathon. You see, I'm not a runner, never have been and probably never will be. Running is something I dabble with if only to lose my beer gut.
The Marathon, however, is a special event for my beloved city of Boston. I have spent many hours at the finish line, whether it was in my former office on Boylston Street or as a spectator, there's something magical about the day. The pulse of the city is a little faster that day. The kindness you experience is different than any other day. The people you meet are from all edges of the world. If you haven't experienced a Marathon Monday, you must add it to your bucket list.
I'd often go to the 11am Red Sox game with my wife, walk down Comm Ave to Boylston Street from Kemore Square. That walk, in itself, has its magestical accents, especially when the weather is spring-like and the city is turning green after a cold grey winter.
So back to three years ago...
I had Bruins tickets for that day. It was a rare situation where the Sox were playing, the Bs were playing a matinee and the Marathon was about to thrust 3,000 runners through the streets of our Commonwealth from Hopkington to Boston's Back Bay.
As a former season ticket holder, I'd often take different people to Bruins games -- sometimes my kids, sometimes my wife, sometimes buddies or co-workers. For this game, I was going to cheer the Bruins on with my brother-in-law Danny, a respiratory therapist with Boston Medical Center.
As I watched the TV, admiring the endless stream of runners cross the finish line, I threw on my customary B's home jersey. I grabbed my phone and texted Danny.
"Hey, will meet you at the Garden at xx time."
I cracked a beer, and settled in to watch those in much better shape than me cross the familiar blue and yellow finish line logo, arms raised celebrating their accomplishment. Some fell to the ground in exhaustion or due to raw emotion for completing something most don't even have the courage to do.
At that point, I was putzing around the house, getting anxious because I was pumped for the Bs game.
Then the breaking news over the tv...
"Explosion at the Marathon finish line."
Eh, I said, must be an electrical box failure. The news is saying the same thing.
A second news flash...
"Two explosions on Boylston Street."
Carnage and pure fear is what my eyes were soaking in as I glued myself to the tv and checked social media feeds.
About an hour goes by and I text Danny.
"Hey man, what's up? We still meeting. Not sure if we will go considering what's going on."
No word, so I call him.
"Hey Don, can't talk right now. I'm in the middle of this shit. It's a fucking war zone here at the hospital."
I learned later that Danny was at the front of the entry way where bombing victims were coming in. He had to route patients to various parts of the hospital, which as he described it, was nothing short of a slow motion nightmare. He was many responders who helped take care of those who were injured.
Danny, being the professional he is, did what he had to do. His stories, as he told me and others later, were incredibly graphic and disturbing.
Needless to say, the Bruins cancelled their game.
For the next 48-72 hours, I was glued to the TV, scrolling social media feeds, soaking in all the horrific details of the bombings.
The shelter in place.
The emegenced of the video footage showing the asshole brothers.
The lift of the shelter in place.
Waking up the next morning to hear about the poor MIT police officer who was slain and the ensuing shootout in Watertown.
Finding that little prick in the boat, wishing a sniper would have taken him out and two to the head.
It was unbelievable. This was shit that doesn't happen in "our fucking city" as Papi said.
As the days passed and anger, sadness and fear lifted from that horrible day, I'm left with vivid memories of the first 24 hours.
Now, three years later, those memories come running back. They are accompanied by a slew of inspiring stories that are a byproduct of terror.
It amazes me how the city came together to heel. It has been awe inspiring watching those who lost limbs show the world they were not to be denied a future. It has been awesome to hear how families, friends and colleagues from around Greater Boston have come together to show just how strong we are.
After all, this is our fucking city.