Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Boston Bombings: how my son narrowly escaped the scene that will forever be imprinted in his mind.

This post is dedicated to "Mrs. M," a mom who rescued my son the day of the Boston bombings--to forever be considered a Guardian Angel. 

     When my 14-year old finished debate season, he and his debate partner, a friend since kindergarten,  were proud of their accomplishments, even winning several medals for their verbal banter. When my son excitedly shared he was invited to participate in a special end -of -the season Championship debate at Harvard, I was hesitant about him going. Why? Well, I knew  Spring baseball season was starting, so practice/games would be scheduled six days a week, coupled by his challenging academic workload. Plus, he had already debated at Harvard  earlier this year. And most importantly, I had a "sick" feeling in my stomach when he told me about going.

     "So you don't think I should go Mom? " he shrugged, quizzically looking back at my hesitant look. "Well, if you really want to go, I guess you can; it's just that you have a lot on your plate right now....but you  decide." Yes, I was secretly hoping he would agree that he should skip this venue, even though I knew it was a great opportunity.

     I just couldn't shake this uneasy, gnawing feeling in my gut, this feeling which I tried to explain when my son's friend's mother, Risa (she said I could use her name) enthusiastically called to celebrate this Harvard opportunity. I explained the feelings I had, and told her I didn't share my uneasiness with my son. Risa said, "Everything will be fine, Donna." This is a comment I hear from her a lot, since of the two of us, I definitely am the more cautious--and often the recipient of her comment, "Well, I know how you are, so I didn't know if you'd want your son to do"... this or that. We are two very different women who have become good friends, and our relationship has grown, evolved  and become stronger because of the journey we've shared and the support we've given each other as women and as moms. However, she is originally from Brooklyn. Still, this Bronx-born girl won't hold that against her : )

     Truth is I am doing my parenting job and have been on target with every mother's instinct I've had. I know when something doesn't feel "right." And the times when I haven't listened, I regretted it.
     As the deadline approached for going, my son said he wasn't sure if his baseball coach would let him go because of the game he would miss. I tried to use this as a reason he shouldn't go, but then his coach graciously agreed he could attend. So I had to say, "Listen, I don't feel good about this trip. I can't explain why." Minutes within sharing this, I received an email detailing the itinerary for the trip, specifying that "Mrs. M." a parent chaperon who, from the moment I spoke with, and then later met, felt is a mom on a mission. She's a no nonsense, tell it like it is, woman who cares  a lot about children. She had chaperoned some of the debates my son attended and graciously texted/called me with updates.
     When Dylan came to me for the final decision, he had a sweeter package deal to offer: In addition to "Mrs. M" chaperoning, the debaters were getting a special tour of Harvard. Hence, I told my son that, although I still felt uneasy, I felt better that "Mrs. M" would be there. The night before my son left, we received an email from the Debate Coach that the trip would be extended to include a walking tour of Boston--and then a Red Sox's game on Patriot's Day. I had the gnawing at my stomach again--although it hadn't broken skin...yet.
     I have to share my husband is a die-hard Red Sox fan, sporting commemorative plaques of their Championship wins on our fireplace mantle, vying for space with their Yankee counterparts lined up by my two sons. The rivalry is always a heated dinner table discussion, so my husband, who has never been to the Green Monster, was envious of my son--but, even more, thrilled for him.
     After the debates were completed, my son called to say he was in Boston, excited beyond belief to see his rival team and to buy some special souvenirs for my husband. The only glitch in this entire scenario was that Mrs. M. had to come back before the game ended due to a prior commitment. The boys sounded so disappointed as were some parents. So, I decided to contact Mrs. M directly to see what was going on. Once I spoke with her, I could hear in her voice that she was trying so hard to please the boys as she was listening to all their pre-game hype. She explained that, not only was it Patriot's Day, it was also the Boston Marathon. All the streets were blocked and barricades were all over. Mrs. M could have let our boys go home later with the Debate Coach and his group, but that would mean our boys would be alone in Boston for at least an hour before the second group arrived. She didn't want to do that, and I agreed.
     Mrs. M. extended the stay to the 6th inning, which I thought was a wonderful compromise. Risa called me and said she was a little disappointed the boys wouldn't see the entire game, and this time I told her, "It will be fine; the boys have to learn to compromise and that they can't get everything they want."
     "Besides," I added "who knows if by leaving early, Mrs. M will avoid a car crash or something. Risa was agreeable.
    Both our sons called us elated from the Green Monster, "Mom, I'm having such a great time. I got two souvenirs for Dad. "Sure, for Dad, what did you get for me," I giggled. "I have a hug for you, Mom."
     The next time I heard from my son was from Mrs. M's car: "Mom, did you hear what happened?" "No, I responded. "Did the Red Sox win by a landslide?" "Boston was bombed mom, right where we walked by. We were on the corner there; we left ten minutes before the bombs went off."
     I turned the TV on to see what looked liked the Boston Massacre, not the Boston Marathon. I looked at the clock. Risa confirmed this with the text she received from her son that they were leaving; he sent the text at 1:40. The bombs went off about 1:50.
     I could hear the chill in my son's voice and knew my 14year-old had lost some of his innocence, and now experienced the reality that there is evil in the world. He told me that Mrs. M was crying as they listened to the radio on the way home.
     Mrs. M (a MOM herself) had become a hero for me. At the very least, her early departure allowed the boys to come home, rather than get stuck in the heart of the tragedy.
     When my son walked in the door, I ran to get my "souvenir" hug and didn't let go for a long time.W hen I looked into his eyes, I knew he was shaken and confused. He's such a good human being that something like this is inconceivable. He said he felt so many emotions and just needed to rest on the couch. I put our dog in his arms to let him see and feel all the goodness to counter what he had experienced. Lots of those "could have, would have, should haves" were going through his mind, and I did my best to comfort him.
     Risa called me the next morning. We only had a few words and kept repeating them, often gasping, lingering on some of the "what ifs," and how our hearts go out to all those who died, lost limbs, got injured or witnessed this first hand.
     It made me reflect on the first time I ever met Risa, We had a "play date" at a local park. She brought her younger son and was breastfeeding, which I also did with both my children. So we were talking about this and motherhood in general. Our boys laughed and ran around the playground chasing each other.
     "Wow," I pondered. We've known each other for almost ten years now. How wonderful that we have more "play dates" to look forward to and moments to cherish.
     When I saw Risa and her husband at the baseball field last week, he came over to me and said, "You know when I saw your son, I had to hug him today. We're so lucky; We're so lucky."
     Yes,  we are lucky! I thanked my "little voice" inside, known as my Mother's Instinct, which will continue to guide me in making decisions concerning my children; I thanked God for his grace in bringing these boys home safely; And I'm publicly thanking Mrs. M for being our children's Guardian Angel.


  1. Well said. Agree completely. Mrs. M saved us. And is truly a hero. I love you mom (: and mrs. M for that matter.

  2. Peyton GuilfoyleMay 5, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    I loved your story. Moms do know what is going on with their families all the time. I really enjoyed reading something inspirational regarding this tragedy.

  3. Wonderful Post; the world is freaking crazy, and sometimes I fear for our children's future. I hope moms like Mrs. M keep doing what they do best and people like you share these stories.

  4. I am overwhelmed with your accolades. I am not a hero....just a mom who was is and will be honored to travel with such an elite group of high school students. At the same time I have to say that as a practicing Christian, God was with He is on each day of our walk. I am humbled and touched. Thank you seems shallow but I honestly mean it. Next year, Dylan - I see great things in you and your partner's future. MRS. M

  5. Excellent story, beautiful and spiritual people are all around us. when we find each other, MommyBest and friends, wonderful things happen.

  6. As I read what you wrote, I had misty eyes and a choked up feeling in my throat and chest. How our boys so innocently and easily left Boston that terrible day. They left with nothing but good memories of their weekend, and with feelings of accomplishment.

    I feel so blessed that they knew nothing of what was about to happen, and were safely away from danger when they found out about it. We couldn't believe as we watched the news that evening the difference that 10 minutes had made!

    As I sit here today on my front porch with my 9 year old son(yes, he was the baby in the park I was breast feeding when I first met Donna). My 14 year old (who was in Boston the day of the bombing) doing some homework in his room. I am so grateful for the " normal" day we are having and think about how different our lives could have been with such a tiny 10 minute shift in the schedule.

    My heart goes out to those who were not as lucky as we were that day.

    Thank you Donna for putting it so eloquently. And thank you Mrs. M for looking after our boys and bringing them home safely.



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