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posted 4.15.13
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Counting Our Blessings In Boston

By Natalie Stovall

This afternoon James, Miguel, Joel, Hailey, and I set out from our hotel on a beautiful day in Boston. We were headed down to mile marker 23.5 on the marathon route to meet our good friend Paul. We were so thankful to be in town on Patriots Day, one of the most fun days to be in this city! The streets were filled with spectators cheering on the runners, looking for their loved ones… holding up homemade signs and clanging cowbells to give that extra bit of encouragement. On every block there were tons of cook-outs, sidewalk parties, kids running around, sweet doggies, bands, and djs. The city of Boston had transformed into a 26 mile long celebration of accomplishment.

When we found Paul, we grabbed some burgers, watched the sidewalk cover band and joined in the festivities. It was so much fun. James and I were up at the barricades cheering along the runners for a while and all of a sudden, the MPs and Boston Police very calmly but sternly told us all we needed to back up from the fence. There wasn’t any obvious reason, but I don’t argue with a man in uniform with that look on his face. We backed up, they pushed back the barricades, and then they said we all needed to keep moving back… It was so strange. Everyone was so confused and saying, “there’s no way they’re breaking it up yet! There’s still hours left!” We couldn’t see anything abnormal, and I honestly thought a runner had gotten hurt and they needed to get one of the parked emergency vehicles through. But they kept moving us back, told us we needed to “clear the area”, told the bar they had to shut everything down, and my phone rang… I saw it was my sister-in-law… and this was the first time I got that “pit in my stomach” feeling. Before she even said anything, I just knew something must have happened. She said, “Are you ok?!” This was the moment we were all getting the news in different forms “Two bombs just went off at the finish line.” – Tracy was telling me all the way from Tennessee, Paul was hearing it from other people on the street, and the band was crowded around James and Joel’s phones all watching videos on CNN.

The crazy thing was… runners were still running at this point. It was very odd. The crowd was cleared from the street but I think they had specific points where they told the runners what was happening to try to reduce the amount of chaos and confusion. But of course in the moment it made no sense at all. But I must say, the MPs and Police handled the situation with an incredible amount of assurance. I can’t tell you how comforted I felt in those brief but very intense moments when the MPs were giving us directions. Even though I didn’t understand what was happening, they made me feel taken care of.

It took us about an hour to figure out how to get out of there because so many of the streets were shut down… plus all of the public transportation had stopped. But we finally made it back to Paul’s car and he gave us a ride back to Newton. We grabbed some take-out, stayed glue to the news, and then all slowly but surely started to crash. The exhaustion of the day suddenly caught up to us.

I received more texts and concerned comments on social media today asking about our safety. We feel very loved and thankful this evening. We’re thankful to be together and to be safe in the midst of such heartbreak. Thank you for your concern, and join us in our prayers for Boston. This beautiful city’s heart is breaking tonight.

Peace. Love. Fiddle.
~natalie