After Jackson's morning nap on Monday, we loaded up the babies and headed out to cheer for my Jeremy and my dad at the finish line! With all the new technology, we were able to follow them on an app on our phone and we also got text message alerts when they would cross certain mile markers along the marathon! So, we knew exactly where they were and how their race was going for them.
We said a brief prayer for Jer and dad and for our protection and then headed out from our hotel around 12:00 which gave us plenty of time to find the perfect spot to cheer for the finishers!
Mom and I weren't quite sure where the best place would be for us to get the best view of the finishers, but we headed down Boylston Street! For those of you who have cheered at any type of endurance type sporting event, you always seems to have butterflies for the finishers! Such a huge accomplishment...and especially to have trained, qualified to run Boston and then to have completed the Boston Marathon! Wow! So, anyways, along we went down Boylston Street.
As we neared the Finish line there were roads that began to be blocked off...giving more room for the finishers. So we had to take several back roads. Eventually, we found the perfect spot right at the 26 mile marker. Of course there were tons of people everywhere!! We just figured that since we had about 45 minutes until Jeremy finished that by then a few spectators would move away from the metal gates that bar-gated us off the road. We really enjoyed visiting with all the other friendly spectators that were cheering their family and friends on! We would help each other look for family members!
About 12:45, a few people began to move away as their family members had finished so we were able to squeeze in and get a better view of the finishers! As you can imagine there are thousands and thousands of spectators all along Boylston Street. I was SO excited that we actually got a spot right in front so Bella would be able to see her daddy finish!!
Sure enough right around 1:00 we saw Jeremy finishing!! He did awesome! We were so proud of him!! We cheered and cheered and yelled....everyone around us joined in chanting "Go Jer!!...Go Jer!!" It's really hard to describe unless you are there...but there is such a sense of family at these type races! People want to encourage each other and join in cheering for other finishers as well!
(I grew up cheering for my dad in races...who knows how many our family has been to together. It's always been such a wonderful way to spend family time together and support my dad in his accomplishments! As us girls grew older and began running also, we have enjoyed training together and racing together! Running and racing will always bring back such special family memories! It's such a joy to begin sharing in these memories with Bella and Jackson!)
Once we saw Jeremy finish, we knew it was time to try to meet up with him at the finish. BUT, sweet Bella needed to go potty, Jackson was needing to nurse and my cell phone was dying...and there were a lot more streets blocked off then I had imagined! So, we loaded up the babies and found a CVS in which the friendly employees let us camp out and eat snacks, charge my phone and nurse Jackson! =) The only close bathroom was in a tiny, dark, underground bar...so Bella and I skooted in and out very fast!! Then, Jer called us! He had endured some severe leg cramping the last two miles of the marathon and was needing to sit and rest a while before attempting to meet up with us. So, he decided to stay put a few blocks from the finish line and we decided we would cheer for my dad then meet up with him. So, back to the crowded finish line we went!
We decided to move on down a little closer to the finish line to cheer on my dad, thinking that it would make us a little closer to Jeremy and was hoping our meet up to be somewhat easier. We planted ourselves across from the Lord and Taylor department store. Tons and tons of people...but we were able to push our way to the front of the crowds to get a perfect view of the finishers!! I think this sweet face helps move people aside! I mean how could you block such a precious girl from cheering for her Pappa!?!
We loved cheering...it's just so exciting...the crowds...the enthusiasm...the joy!!!
At approximately 2:15, we spotted my dad in the distance headed towards the finish line!! He looked awesome and strong as ever! We began our chant, "Go Pappa!!...Go Pappa!!"...and he whipped by us!! YAY!! Both of our guys finished strong and now it was time to meet up! So, we loaded up the babies and around 2:20 headed closer to the finish line in hopes to meet up with Jeremy and my dad!
We passed by the finish line around 2:40...Jeremy called! He said he was going to try and move toward us but his legs were so stiff. As I was talking with him, we actually looked over and saw my dad in the midst of thousands of runners who had just finished! They all had on their aluminum type covers they receive upon finishing to help warm their bodies. I do not know how I saw him...other than the Lord!! We motioned...keep walking and stand a block or so away from the finish and we'll meet up. So, I told Jer to meet us a block or so from finish line. Mom and I planted ourselves a block and a half from the finish line and waited for the guys. After standing for 5 minutes, we heard 2 LOUD booms!!! We honestly didn't think much of it....I thought maybe something crashed or fell at the finish line!?? I was more concerned about finding Jeremy...but then we saw huge billows of smoke!! Everyone was asking if there was a fire!?? I called Jeremy and told him there was some kind of fire or something but we were waiting for him. Within a minute, I saw him walking toward me....with big billows of smoke not too far behind him.....he made his way to us and I met him in the road. I began hugging him and congratulating him for a race well done!! He immediately said, "Babe, there's been a bomb...we need to run as quickly as we can....where's your dad!?" I turned around and at the moment my dad caught sight of us and crossed the street to meet us. Noone knew what had happened but within seconds there were sirens, under cover cops and big black tahoes with lights racing to the finish line. We were still clueless....but in that moment, we knew we had to high-tail it back to our hotel which was 1 mile away! My dad and Jeremy were walking as fast as they could....but for those who have done a marathon you know that it's so hard to move fast at all once you've stopped! As we passed local sandwich shops and bars we could see the News flashing on the TVS.....the screens were of pictures just a few blocks behind us!!! We didn't stop....we just kept pressing on!
In that moment, I remember saying a prayer over us and asking for protection...and an overwhelming peace came over me! I knew that the Lord was with me and if that was our time to go...then we would meet Jesus face to face in heaven. Having that peace...I knew the task before me was to do the best I could to get these babies back to our hotel....as my dad and Jeremy tried to keep up behind us.
At 3:15, we arrived safely to our hotel and raced up to our room and turned on the news. What in the world!!!?? Then the news began to unfold and we began to realize that we had just barely escaped a horrible disaster. I can not express in words the emotions that over came me. Fear...yes, panic...yes, thankfulness...yes, peace...yes...so many emotions!!! We stayed in our room the rest of the day and night as the story began to unfold about the two men who set bombs off at the finish line.
As I thought back on our day and the various places we had cheered....I realized the following:
1. We had cheered for my dad at the EXACT location of the second bomb just 30 minutes prior to it going off.
2. Had Bella not needed to use the restroom and Jackson not needed to eat, we would have stayed and cheered for my dad where we had cheered for Jeremy, meaning that we would have been delayed 15 minutes and passed right by the finish line at the time the bombs went off.
3. Had I not charged my phone, who knows if would have found Jeremy.
I praise my Jesus for his mighty angels who guided our steps this past Monday. We had prayed a short, general prayer for protection as we began our day Monday...but I had no idea what would come of our day. The Lord truly guided our steps that day...and led us exactly where He wanted us to be when the two bombs went off. He allowed us to see my dad in the crowd of thousands and communicate that we would meet us a block away (otherwise my dad would have been worried that we were near the bombs when they went off). The Lord have Jeremy strength in his legs to walk just fast enough to clear the finish line area just 5 minutes from the bombs going off. Within 5 minutes of the bombs going off our entire family was together safely headed towards our hotel. Most importantly, the Lord gave me a peace which surpassed all understanding that He was with us and everything was going to be alright. Things could have turned out very different this past Monday...a sequence of events could have turned into some irreversible circumstances and devastation for our family. My heart breaks for those families who lost loved ones or who had family memebers' seriously injured. My heart aches for those who saw it all happen and saw the awfulness of the scene in person. My mind can not grasp the evil and hate that the people who planned such a disastrous evil act. This world is not our home...it is full of sin and evil...BUT we have a Savior, Jesus Christ who has overcome this world!!! Our battle is not against flesh and blood; it is against the powers of the evil one. We must not fear because HE has overcome Satan! We can have peace and hope for our future because we know who holds the world in His hands!
Thank you Jesus for the peace and protection you gave our family Monday. Thank you for your angels who guarded us. I pray for those affected that you will be real to them and meet them where they are....draw them to yourself and Jesus I pray that you will somehow be glorified and draw others to you through this awfulness that has occurred.
I have heard this song several times this week...praise God for his angels!!