I was at the front of the group of runners police stopped within half a mile of the finish line soon after the bombs went off.
Officials held us there for about 40 minutes. We did not know what was happening and many of the runners started to suffer from the effects of stopping without water or medical aid, myself included.
Finally the officers realized that 2,000 people standing in such a small area was also a possible target. We were told to disperse, which was not easy to do. Where were we to go, anyway? A nurse who was running the marathon was standing next to me. I was so cold and shaking. She said my lips were turning blue and I should find some first aid as soon as possible. I tried to make my way back to our hotel, but the streets were all blocked off as a crime scene.
As I was trying to get back to our hotel, a man with his wife and three children came up to me and offered aid. He took the coat off his back and put it on me. The family helped me find my way back toward my hotel. As we parted I gave him a hug and we both started to cry. His children asked their mom why we were crying. She just hugged them all together and gave me an understanding smile.
All I could think of at the time was dropping to my knees and looking his children into the eyes, which I did. I told them to never forget what I was about to tell them. I told them that their father was a good man; that I would always remember the kindness he offered a scared and hurting stranger; and they should always be proud of their dad and the love of God that he shared with me.
Afterward, the man helped me to my feet and held me in his arms again before we parted, me still wearing the stranger’s coat.
When I was able to get back to our hotel room, I put on warm clothes and my coat as well as the stranger’s coat and went back out to look for my friend, Sandy.
As it would happen, a runner came up to me who looked as bad as I had earlier. He was cold and confused. He could not find his family and couldn't get back to his hotel. He was lost and scared for his family's safety.
I took the stranger's coat off I had received earlier and gave it to him. He too started to cry and thanked me. Cell phones were not working for fear that they might be used to set off other bombs. However, I was able to text the number he gave me for his family. Shortly after, they texted back to tell us they were safe and where they were. As we parted he offered to give the coat back to me. When I told him the story of how I came about having the coat, we both started to cry again.
As it would happen, when Sandy and I finally found each other, she too was wearing a coat a young man had given her. She told me that as she was searching for me, residents were coming out of their houses with food and water for runners, and offering any kind of aid they could.
I say all this for this reason: Evil is all around us, but so are angels. The kindness I saw yesterday will always be what I first think of when I think of the Boston Marathon. Good people are all around us here in Boston and there at home, as well. We all have gifts to give and coats to share. God is so good and good things come out of the worst situations.
Please pray for all of those that are hurting. Please thank God for the kindness of strangers.
For more personal accounts of the 2013 Boston marathon, click here.
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