Amanda Burgess of Nashua is blogging for NPR about her experience of returning to the Boston Marathon this year.
She was stopped less than a mile from the finish line last year.
That's where her two children and several family members were standing.
Thankfully, they were not injured, but it was two hours before she was able to get in touch with them.
Rick Ganley: You’ve been writing about your experience over the past several months for NPR. How did you get involved in that blog?
Amanda Burgess: “A friend of mine from high school posted on Facebook that they were looking for people to write on the blog for the marathon from last year. I just decided I’m going to give it a shot. We had to write a piece on our experience from last year. They chose eight people to blog with. Our stories are vastly different. I just felt like if there was some way I could reach out to someone and just give them some kind of strength of someone who could relate to my story, as a mother really. And just showing my children that you do need to move on and be strong. And I felt that was the best way for them to see me do that.”
RG: In that blog, you’ve talked about how your kids were at the finish line last year and the panic for hours before you heard that they were all right. Can you tell us about that?
AB: “My kids, actually my whole family, they were across the street from the second bomb, a little ways up. I was a little over half a mile from the finish. And I was wearing my headphones, so I was removing myself from the world so I could finish. And all of a sudden, I pretty much was where the large number of runners was stopped. At first, just kind of looking around, having no idea why we were being stopped. And then basically silence because as you probably heard, they cut off cell phone service. I had looked down at my phone and I could see by brother-in-law and one of my best friends had called me. I pretty much knew when I saw the missed calls from them that something was wrong because they were tracking me. The panic kind of sets in. Probably five minutes into being stopped, we started hearing there was an explosion at the finish line. I had in my mind, a vision of where they would be. From the point that I was stopped to the point where I was able to communicate with them, it was almost two hours. The fear basically set in and I tried to stay calm but it wasn’t easy.”
RG: How have your children handled the experience?
AB: “Natalie was 9 at the time and my son Camden was 7. They still, in their little minds, they really don’t understand why it happened or how it happened. So what happened to my children was the noise, I think that’s what really impacted them, especially my son. The noise was so loud that to this day, if he hears anything loud, the look on his face, you just see the panic. My daughter, a little bit more mature, she kind of internalized it more. I think for her, it was really on the emotional level knowing that people were hurt and that I think there’s a sadness for her.”
RG: So is there any trepidation at all in going back to Boston?
AB: “On the physical side of things, I’ll make it. I have friends that work for the state police and they’re actually part of the day. There’s no sense of fear at all for me in terms of something happening. It’s just I know that day. I don’t know what will happen, but just looking around, there’s so many people doing charities for those that were hurt. Every marathon is emotional. When you’re running and you see a picture of child that died of cancer on someone in front of you, you can’t help but just that emotion. So I think this year, just knowing what happened last year – and it truly feels like it was yesterday – my heart’s heavy, it’s going to be an emotional day.”
RG: And do your kids have any trepidation about being at the finish line?
AB: “Actually, my son has declared that he will not be going to the marathon. My daughter, she’s actually shown no sign of being concerned or worried until last night. People are starting to talk about it, so she said to me last night, ‘Mom, what if something does happen? What if I get hurt?’ She had tears in her eyes. I just want to reassure to them I’m not forcing them to come. I want them to feel comfortable with whatever decision they make.”