Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Birdie...

Well, I think we can all say this has been quite a week.  Whether or not you were at the Boston Marathon last Monday, chances are you know someone who was affected by the tragic events that occurred that day.  A week later, I find myself finally being able to digest a little of what happened.

My husband and I moved to Boston about eight years ago.  He grew up here, I grew up in Los Angeles, and we met in college in Florida.  Knowing we wanted to one day get married and start a family, we decided to move and make Boston our permanent home.  And for the past eight years, “Marathon Monday” has been one of my most favorite days of the year.  As Mama J said, the city truly “becomes alive.”  People are excited, happy, and ready to cheer on complete strangers (or family or friends) and enjoy their day off.  Last year it was a bit of a change of pace for us--Bird was born!  We spent the day at MGH and had our own marathon of sorts.  Which means it was extra sentimental to us to bring her to the marathon this year.  And we did just that.  We broke out the Ergo, did a coffee run, and walked the few blocks from our home to the event.  Up Ring Road to Boylston, we stood with the crowd across from Forum and Starbucks cheering on people we didn’t know as they had less than two blocks to go.  We saw people young and old, and all different ethnicities.  We saw a man in a tutu holding a wand and a few servicemen in their fatigues carrying their huge military backpacks.  I began to tear up as everyone gave them a round of applause.  What they were doing, even then, felt unbelievable.  My husband took a few pictures of me and the baby with runners behind us, and a couple videos to capture the whole experience to show her one day.  After all, she’s our Marathon Monday baby, and my husband planned on telling her that once every seven years when the marathon falls on her actual birthday, it is really Boston throwing a huge party for her.

I wanted to stay longer, but my husband was putting the finishing touches on his dissertation and insisted he needed to get home.  We headed back, and though we rarely have the TV on around the baby, we put it on to continue in the Marathon experience.  What happened after that is probably what most of us in the Boston area experienced: breaking news followed by a countless number of phone calls and text messages.  For me and most of my mom friends, it was trying to get a hold of each other.  We had all made clear we would be there at different points with the babies.  One mom friend was at the finish line with her son, her husband only a few hundred feet from completing the race.  Like everyone else, we were somewhat terrified, and completely saddened in our somber city.  But our daughter’s first birthday was the next day.

She was only turning one, and as my brother said in his honest and direct way, she not only wouldn’t know what had happened in Boston, but was most likely completely clueless about her special day.  He was right.  So, we decided to stick to the plan we had made.  We went to Wiggles class.  We walked to Georgetown Cupcakes on Newbury Street, going around the barricade, passing the early stages of a memorial and a media frenzy, so she could taste her first bit of chocolate.  We went out to lunch and made an appearance at the park.  The city felt empty-hearted, and so did we.  Bomb-sniffing dogs stopped at the park behind us, and armored SWAT transport vehicles with national guards hanging off the back, holding automatic rifles, casually went by as we sipped a cocktail outside Petit Robert trying too hard to not think about the day before.

Clearly, the week continued on an unknown and bewildering path.  More family checked in to make sure we were feeling okay.  My dad’s cousin called from Israel to see if we were safe.  The irony of that is far from lost on me.

A week later, we can look back and wonder what our lives would be like had our day been pushed back just one hour.  A week later, we can look back and be thrilled that the people responsible for this were found and captured, but devastated that so many were injured or lost their lives.  A week later, we can look back and finally feel a little bit of that birthday magic, for our Marathon Monday girl.  Happy birthday, Birdie...

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