My trip back to Boston was filled with tremendous blessings and something I had hoped for most; peace. Boston is where I experienced my trauma, our Cape house was where I was triggered last summer, and it became the place where I endured the most paralyzing anxiety that led to my hospitalization. I hadn’t been back there since and so this trip wasn’t just about meeting the other survivors, it was about me going back to the place I was most uncomfortable. I wondered if it would still be my “happy” place. Would I feel the peace there that I had always had before?
In order to prepare for the trip I spent the week leading up to leaving seeing my therapist, going for acupuncture, and floating. All of this extra work really set me up for success. Even as our red-eye approached I found myself calmly packing, moving through security, and getting through the flight. I stepped off the plane in Massachusetts proud of myself. Once we made it to the house and I opened the door I was met with the cheerful energy that had always filled that space for me. I told Jeff that night how relived I was that I was happy there again.
On Friday morning we drove into Boston for a meeting with Dr. Crawford at the Massachusetts Resiliency Center. The kids, Jeff and I sat with him for over an hour. This man is one of the many angels I have met on my journey towards healing. He has dedicated his life to helping survivors of terrorist attacks and understood everything I was describing to him. As I proceeded to go through a box of tissue in his office, he comforted me with his tender words, his belief that I would pull through this, and the reassurance that I was not alone. I left there wishing I would have known about him sooner and the services the center offers. Last summer could have been so different had I found that comfort an hour drive away from me. I know I can’t look back on my journey now with regrets and so I am grateful to have found him now.
From there we spent some time in the city with the kids and stayed at our best friend’s apartment that night. Ironically it’s the same place Jeff and I had stayed the night before and after the bombing. I had a difficult time sleeping that night which my therapist had prepared me for. The city sounds and thoughts about the next morning left me hanging in between sleep and rest and yet when my alarm went off I hopped right out of bed and into the shower.
As I walked the three blocks to the finish line, a certain song came out of nowhere and got stuck in my head. It’s a funny song but it made total sense. I was subconsciously giving myself an internal pep talk. Any Sound of Music fan will probably start singing it as they read this. “I have confidence in sunshine, I have confidence in rain, I have confidence that spring will come again, besides which you see I have confidence in me.”
Retracing the same steps I had made that day 4 years ago, all by myself, was a huge stride for me. When I got to Marathon Sports, the site of the first bomb, I scanned the crowd to find Manya. Her warm hug is just what I needed and we stood together and watched the father and brother of Krystle Campbell, one of the victims who lost her life that day, hang a beautiful wreath of white roses in her honor – bagpipes played in the background. It was very emotional for me and soon I felt the arms and hands of other survivors around me consoling me. Without even knowing me they were extending their love and it filled me with peace and comfort. Soon we were all making our way down the steps of the Boston Public Library to the survivor’s breakfast and as we walked Manya began introducing me to amazing people who were all so happy that I was there and that I had found them. Wow! I felt so blessed. Most conversations started with, “Tell me where you were?” and somewhere in the middle I would start crying and they would hug me and offer their support and reassurance. I cried the whole morning really and they weren’t sad tears -- they were healing tears. Tears that I have needed to cry. Tears that only these wonderful survivors before me could understand. Tears that felt good to release. I left that breakfast with a whole new family who understands me and who chooses to share in the journey I’ve been on.
As I made my way back to the apartment I found a skip in my step and a sense of confidence that I’d lost somewhere during the past year. I felt physically lighter as years of loneliness seemed to melt away. Soon I was met with the cheers of my family from the apartment balcony. I danced across the crosswalk as they yelled, “Go Mommy! Go Mommy!” It felt good to have them cheering me on, just as they’ve always done, as I made this huge leap forward in my journey to find healing.