My mom always told my sister and me that everything happens for a reason and I finally learned that on April 15th, 2013. On that day, two bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, injuring more than two hundred innocent people and killing three, young and beautiful people. I was eleven years old and Julia, my sister, was nine. No one should ever see or go through was Julia and I did. I never really understood how much of an impact little things can have on your life. But after the bombing, my family soon realized that it affected me much more than my dad, and sister.
Monday morning we woke up at the Best Western, ready to race. My dad was nervous to run, and my sister and I were filled with excitement to cheer him on. Tyler, a close family friend of ours, took Julia and me around to watch my dad run. The last time we saw my dad during the race was at mile 17, right before “Heartbreak Hill.” Julia and I cheered as loud as we could. He came running over and gave Julia and me a hug and a kiss and said “I’m hurting. No rush to get to the finish line.” My dad worked for Pepsi and was able to get us VIP passes to watch at the finish line. After we saw my dad, we grabbed some lunch, then headed for the train. At the time, I hated the conductor, but soon after the bombs went off, I realized that she may have just saved my life. The train ride, which should be quick, took forever. When we got on, there were hundreds of people jammed into the car. Tyler pushed his way through and held onto Julia and me. We stood on the train with all different people from all walks of life. The doors on the train struggled to close. People continued to push their way in. Finally the doors closed and we were on our way to the finish line.
At the next stop, another hundred people tried to get on. Julia and I grasped Tyler scared of all the people around us. The conductor came on the speaker and said, “Make room for these people or else we’re not going anywhere.” So, everyone smushed even more, to the point where I could no longer see anything but the backs of the people up against me. The conductor stopped in the middle of the tunnel to yell more. “We’re all trying to get to the same place. If you all don’t make room at the next stop we aren’t going.” This went on for a good thirty minutes. Now concerned that we wouldn’t make it to see my dad finish, we started to panic. When we got off the train we began to run. But we had to stop. I had to tie my shoe. Tyler grabbed our hands and rushed to the finish line. Looking up ahead we saw it. A few more steps to security, then we’d be there. But we never got there. The next moments happened so fast it’s hard to explain. No person should ever have to see what I saw. No person should ever have to go through what I went through. No person, should ever be scared to watch their parent run a race.
I need you to all believe me when I say that I have never heard anything louder than those bombs in my life. When they went off we all screamed and cried. Terrified of what was happening. It didn’t hit me that I watched a bomb explode killing three people, until much later. My first thought was omg my dad. Is he okay? I have to find him. So I called him. He picked up, out of breath and tired, and asked if I had gotten lost. I said no with tears streaming down my face. Tyler took the phone and told my dad that there was an explosion and we would meet him at the Dunkin Donuts by the finish line. Tyler picked Julia and me up and ran. But I began to slip from his arms. A stranger came over, picked me up and ran with Tyler to the Dunkin Donuts. Turning to say thank you, I saw that the man was already gone. My dad was still running the race, but was soon stopped by the police at mile 26 telling him to turn around. My dad’s phone was about to die, and he quickly posted my number on Facebook, saying “please call my daughter Amelia and let her know I am okay and I will find her.” Instantly random people were calling me telling me that my dad was okay. They called asking if we needed anything and telling me I could go to their cousins’ house down the street. The hardest call was to my mom. She picked up the phone crying and I told her we were okay. My aunts and uncles called over and over again to make sure Julia and I were okay, reminding us that my dad was going to find us.
Sitting in the Dunkin Donuts, with other families running from the blast, I learned a lot about myself. Waiting anxiously for my dad to arrive, I watched as other runners starting piling in. They had nothing on them. No phones. No wallets. Nothing. I ran around handing out my phone to help the lost runners contact their families who were nervously looking for them. Watching families reunite brought so much joy to all of us around, knowing that our family members were soon going to find us. Every minute seemed like an hour, more phone calls from family and friends, but still no sign of my dad. After eating many donuts, we became sick of sitting there, but then out of the corner of my eye, I watched my dad running over. I sprang from my seat and ran for my life. I jumped into my dad’s arms crying. I have never been happier in my life. Julia and Tyler followed me giving big hugs, but then we started the trek back to the hotel, which is a whole other story. We knew we needed to get out of the city fast.
To simplify it, it took forever. At age elevenit felt like hours and hours. In reality it was was about and hour. The entire city shut down after the explosion. No trains, no shuttles, no cabs. Nothing. So, we had to walk, and walk, and walk. After failing to find the hotel by memory, a Bostonian led us to our hotel. Right turn. Left turn. Under the tunnel. Over the bridge. Suddenly Julia started complaining that she had to pee. With nowhere to stop within miles, Julia cried. My dad, who had just run twenty-six miles, carried Julia to the closest place to stop, a Subway sandwich shop. Julia lit up with excitement and went running in to pee. She came out a minute later, and made an announcement to everyone in the Subway saying, “I just peed for two minutes!” Everyone heard, and everyone smiled and laughed. For a moment, it relieved all tension everyone had. Before leaving Subway, we looked at the TV. That was the first time my dad really realized what had happened. We hurried out of the store and continued to walk. Finally, after forty years (which it felt like to Julia and me) we saw the hotel up ahead. We ran in, packed everything up, and got out of their as fast as we could.
When driving home, we passed multiple news vans going the opposite direction. My dad said over and over again “Thank God we got out of there.” Half way through the ride I started complaining of stomach pains. Something wasn’t feeling right. I told my dad and he responded with “I’m sure. It’s going to be okay. Should we pull over?” I nodded. We pulled off to the road and I opened the back door. I got out and took some deep breaths, but I didn’t have to throw up. So we got back in the car and continued the journey home. Not even two minutes later, I threw up. Yes, I threw up in the car. Pulling into the closest rest stop, we got out so I could clean up and we could clean the car out. My dad grabbed my suitcase and headed to the bathroom. Standing there crying I changed my clothes and cleaned my face. When the car was finally clean, we took off. I was able to sleep for the rest of the ride but remember my dad received a phone call from the local newspaper asking him to share our story. “My family and I are safe, but I need to get home and settle in then I will call you tomorrow” my dad responded.
Julia and I didn’t go school the next day, we needed a day off. We stayed home and slept most of the time, and also talked to my family about what had happened the day before. I finally settled down. My breathing was back to normal, but my stomach was still all quirky from all the anxiety. That was the day that my family and I learned that I had severe anxiety. My parents always say that there were always signs of it, but it never really came out until after the bombing. I don’t like to say that my anxiety defines me, because it doesn’t, but I do like to say it is apart of who I am. My anxiety, has shaped me into the person I am today, in both good ways and bad ways. I still get nervous every time I am home alone and every time I am away from my parents, but I am able to work through that all. I learned that day that everything happens for a reason. When I get nervous, I have to remind myself that there is an reason why my mom isn’t answering my phone call or there is an reason why my sister is mad. If the train conductor didn’t stop and take the time to yell at us, Tyler, Julia and I would’ve been sitting right where the second bomb went off. If my dad wasn’t injured, he would have been right at the finish line. If I didn’t stop to tie my shoe, we would’ve been even closer to the blast. If we were never at the Boston Marathon, who knows when we would’ve seen my anxiety come out.