#WatertownStrong

Three years ago, after being sick for a week, I was lying in bed trying to sleep. I had been warned by my doctor that the prescription needed to be taken first thing in the morning or with an early breakfast or it would be keeping me up all night. That day I had been busy at work and missed taking it early. So there I was, watching the 11pm news.

I saw the story about an officer at MIT that had been shot. Sadly, this sort of news isn’t unusual. But with the marathon bombing confirmed as a bombing and a deliberate act, Bostonians were on edge. The next breaking news story was a that there was a carjacking reported on Memorial Drive. They made a point to comment that they were investigating whether the two incidents were related.

Now I’m not sure why but I had a pit in my stomach. The kind of fight or flight intuition that you’re not sure exactly where it came from, but there’s not denying it’s there.

And within a minute I heard it outside my windows. Screeching tires. Men yelling. What seemed like a thousand shots fired. Bombs. (Bombs?!) Sirens.

It went on what seemed like forever. (They say in an incident like this that it feels like time moves slowly. When I later heard the report, it was actually a full 20 minutes of gunfire).

As we all learned, the Boston Marathon bombers had stolen a vehicle. They parked their vehicle full of explosives and weapons on a street around the corner and were planning their escape, transferring their arsenal from car to car when the WPD zoned in.

 

I had grabbed my 16 month old son from his crib. Woke my husband (who can sleep through ANYTHING).

The next 17ish hours we were told to “shelter in place”. There were National Guards searching the neighborhood homes and stationed in our courtyard. I spent a good portion of the day in the bathtub, the only room in the house without windows, with our son and the iPad.

 

(First photo – helicopter hovering over grey roof, Second photo – grey roof is building next door to our house. I didn’t see these photos until a year after it happened.)

At 6PM the ‘shelter in place’ was lifted. I wanted to get out and stay at my parents house. I couldn’t imagine sleeping in Watertown while there was a potentially dangerous terrorist somewhere in our town. As we were walking the bags out to the car, I heard another round of shots fired and the National Guards yelled at us to get in the house and get down.

Once again we were indoors, hunkered down. Our cellphones were in and out of service all day, due to the police scanners and government trackers trying to determine the bombers whereabouts. I had been brave enough to peek at the television here and there and saw that the recent shots were from about 10 blocks up Mt.Auburn St. They had surrounded boat where they believed he was hiding.

 

We all know the rest of the story.

 

In the days, months, years since the Boston Marathon bombing and the events in Watertown, I have seen our community prove what it means to be #BostonStrong. I will always think of the men and women who serve to protect our neighborhoods; who walk out the door each morning not knowing whether it’s going to be a shoplifter at Best Buy or something like this.

Then I heard about Officer Dic Donohue. Dic was one of those guys. An MBTA transit police officer that was one of the first responders on scene that night. Dic was shot in his femoral artery and lost pretty much all of his blood supply. He was legally dead for 45 minutes. The closest hospital, Mt. Auburn Hospital gave him 46 units of blood. After a lengthy rehabilitation Dic Donohue became Sgt. Donohue and recently retired. Dic and his gorgeous wife Kim are also expecting Baby No.2 in 2016 (apparently on the 3 year anniversary 4/19!).

Hearing this story changed inspired me. My son was born at Mt.Auburn and all of this unfolded between our home and the hospital.

In July 2013, just months after the Marathon, the Red Cross and Dic Donohue hosted the Boston Strong Blood Drive in Copley Square. That’s when I made the decision to become a blood donor. It was the one thing that could make me feel like I could help someone in a crisis. I can’t imagine doing what our first responders do on a daily basis. I’m so grateful that they are there to help and protect us. Donating blood is the one thing I can do to feel like I’m strong, too. God willing, as long as I’m healthy and able, I will be giving blood to help those in need.

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