Nightmares

Why, you might ask, would you want to write down your bad dreams? I ask myself that same thing but I remember things until I write them down, then it’s like my brain releases them. Even things I don’t want to remember, I try to forget them SO hard that I just keep remembering them.

Someone asked me if in my dreams my brain compensates for things, like if there is a dream with blood, because my brain doesn’t really know what that looks like, so it makes something up and it’s not realistic, I said no it’s terrifyingly realistic.

The first night after the bomb I had a dream that something happened and I was bleeding, like blood everywhere. I woke up, scared and felt my legs, it was just sweat.

This one has been a week or so and it was very long and detailed, I remember only a few details. We were walking somewhere and a friend was with us, a man was shooting people and he came up to our friend and shot him in the skull, blood was everywhere. I woke up crying.

Last night I had a dream that some guy was mad at my sister and he shot her in the heart, she died instantly but he fired two shots, the second one scrapped my skull. My head hurt, I was weak, I asked him nicely to take me to the hospital, I had to convince him I needed to go. I remember waiting in line and weird things going on, I realized that I had lost a lot of blood but that it had seeped into my hair so it didn’t seem like I had lost that much. Then, and I’m glad I don’t remember this, but my husband died. I woke up, in my dream, and he wasn’t in bed next to me. I was so sad, and then I was even more sad because I couldn’t remember how he had died.

I woke up and felt next to me. He was still there.

Today I’m in an airplane, going home. Leaving

Today I’m on an airplane, going home. Leaving is the epitome of bitter-sweet. Leaving my family is among the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the routine of daily life will help both my husband and I feel slightly normal again, hopefully.  Since I’m writing this on a plane, I can’t remember where I left off, but I have time to write so that’s what I’m going to do. I know I am already forgetting things and looking back over the last ten days I really can’t tell you everything I’ve done, but I want to try to remember.

I was in the ambulance. People have been asking about thanking those first responders and men and women in the ambulance, but I don’t know that I would recognize any of them, even though at the time I clearly saw their faces. I jumped in the front seat, hanging onto my sister’s purse. I began digging through it, phone, license, anything I knew they would need for identification. I also had no idea who my new sisters parents were. Assuming they had heard, or would hear soon, they would worry and I had no clue how to contact them.  I think I had met her only two maybe three times before this little “family vacation”. Who doesn’t keep their license in their purse? Obviously her, I also couldn’t find a phone. Oh well, what were my options? I asked where we were going, the drive told me the name of the hospital. I got on my phone and texted all my family.

“I am with my sister, I am ok, she is still alive, this is the hospital we are going to.”

The EMT from the back called up “Can you call ahead and let them know we have an amputee?”

Oh God, I though, please don’t let it be my sister!

“Is the amputee my sister?” I asked the driver,

“I’m afraid so” he said very solemnly.

Wow, how do you tell someone they lost their leg? Would I have to be the one when she woke up to tell her? People live without legs, I had to remind myself. I had seen people, that very day, only a few hours before, running the Boston marathon with prosthetics.  She won’t die I tried to remind myself…I was trying to stay as calm as possible.

My husband is snoring next to me. It brings me back to now, the present, on a plane, going home. How can I just go walk down the street and pretend that I haven’t seen, felt or heard the horrific things I have? How do you just go on like you aren’t dying to hear a word from your family about how each person is doing? I know I can’t protect everyone but I so badly want to stick my family in a bubble and stay there, so no one else can get hurt, no one else will have to suffer. I know that’s not real, not on this earth at least.

We arrived at the hospital emergency room, they took the first stretcher off. My sister and I can’t decide if it was a man or a woman (not that we can’t decide, she thinks it was a man, I’m pretty sure it was a woman but it doesn’t matter much at this point). The person had no legs, they had both been completely blown off, that or they were leg less before, but I doubt it. I pray for that person, whoever it was, God knows but I also thanked God in that moment because I knew, the amputee they were calling in for, was not for my sister. I rushed in with the workers, again holding my sisters stretcher until they said, we are going to surgery you can not come. I knew what battles to fight and this was not one. I stopped and I watched them carry her down a hall and the door closed. I was almost completely alone. I slowly turned around to see three or four nurses staring at me. Beyond them was the ER waiting room.

“Are you alright sweetie?” A nurse asked.

“Yeah, I think so.” Define alright, I wanted to ask.

“Why don’t you come over here and sit down.”

She got me a wheel chair and they made me sit. They put me next to a young man, probably in his 20′s who just stared at me. He was by himself, he had a name tag on, maybe because he was waiting to go into the ER but he didn’t have a huge emergency.  There was a family, well a mom with three kids in the room as well. One of her little girls couldn’t stop looking at me. I had to go to the bathroom really bad. I looked at the guy next to me,

“Do you think they will yell at me if I get out of my wheel chair?” I smiled, it was my lame attempt at a joke. No response. Dude, come on, I thought, I don’t look that bad. I got up and walked into the bathroom. I did look that bad. My hair was a mess, more details on that later, I had blood on my arms, and my pants and shoes were soaked. The pants it didn’t look as bad because they were dark jeans, but my bright teal and pink shoes? Yuck. I walked back out and sat in my wheel chair. The guy had moved across the waiting room, guess I scared him away. The little girl was still staring. The tv was on and the news was playing I started wheeling toward it to watch the tv. The little girl moved to let me by.

“Want to race?” She got a little smile, “come on!” I challenged her, she started walking and I started wheeling faster, then she started running, I got stuck in the rows of seats. She smiled really big and I admitted my defeat. She stopped staring at me after that. As I watched the tv, a nurse came up to talk to me. She put a thing around my neck, a big white card with different colors, I was glad to see one of the colors was for deceased, she didn’t check that color. I was green, which meant ok I guess. She asked if I had any cuts, I said I didn’t know. She told me they were going to cut my pants off.

Really? Could this day get any worse? Now not only do I not know where my parents are, my siblings are all in the hospital, but I also have to walk around without any pants on? I guess we could all be dead so sure, take my pants lady.   The cut was straight down the middle, and she let me keep them on, that was nice of her right? A social worker came to talk to me. She left. A pastoral staff came to talk to me. She left. A different social worker came to talk to me. I already talked to another lady I said, then the first social worker came back. It was awkward, it was like they had this secret conversation about who was going to be my social worker, the first one won out, she gave a crazy stare to the second and after a minute of awkward silence, the second one left. A nurse came out and gave me my sisters phone. My phone had almost died by this point so I was relieved to be able to text. I put some phone numbers into her phone before mine died. Then I got a text from a random number, “this is mom. Using someone’s phone. Text me.” This was the first time I almost cried. My mom was safe, not in an ambulance or hospital, she had been able to use someone else’s phone! Thank you Jesus! I quick put the strangers number into my sisters phone and texted back. My next plan of attack was to get on Facebook, my phone and my sisters phones were getting texts like crazy. I wrote a quick update. “My husband and I are both ok, the rest of the family is being treated. We still have not found my dad, please pray.”

I began to think. Where and when had my dad left our group? Where was he standing when the explosion happened? I think I heard there were two explosions, was he near the second? He hadn’t been on the ground with any Of the other people I saw laying near us…why wasn’t he answering his phone? Phone calls officially weren’t going through, texts were now taking a while to send.

Side note, when National Tragedy strikes, the best thing to do is text and call all the people you know there so that the phone lines get jammed.

The nurse came and wheeled me in the back. I protested that I was fine and really didn’t want to spend the money on what I was sure would be a five minute ER visit, she denied my request.

They gave me a gown and told me to change. I sat on the table waiting, phone in hand. A nurse came in and checked me to make sure I had no cuts. I had nothing. NOTHING. I still couldn’t hear out my left ear but after seeing missing legs, I didn’t want to complain about that. The nurse asked who blood was on my legs, I laughed. “Are you serious?” I asked. I realized she was. “I have no idea, but it doesn’t seem to be mine.”

She brought in a towel and soap and washed my legs, we joked about a massage while she was at it, ” If there were massages here, I might like coming into work more!” I liked having a small something to smile at. The doctor came in and looked in my ear, perforated ear drum, it would heal in a week. The nice nurse gave me a full change of clothes and I got dressed and walked out. I now had a lovely pair of x-large scrub pants, an x-small shirt, and two pairs of hospital socks to replace my bloody sneakers.

One conversation between the nurse and me.

“Ma’am, you can’t be on your cell phone back here” the nurse said sternly, so I put my phone away. She left. I took my phone out, honestly I forgot she had even said that, I was worried about other things. She came back in. “Ma’am, did you get permission to be on your phone?” I shook my head no and started to put it away.

“Who are you looking for?”

“My dad”

Looking around, she whispered, “Screw it honey, you get your phone out and you find your father!”

I tried calling again, lines were still jammed. I sent him another text.

I walked out of the ER, after the kind financial lady came and tried to get all my insurance information, of which I had none. They sent me outside, around the front of the building into the general waiting room. It was chaos. A woman was crying, another man was frantically trying to find someone. I took a seat and tried to think.

Nothing.

Nothing.

I had sent and received a few texts from my mom so I knew she was on her way. My social worker was on the lookout for the rest of my family. I knew where my husband was, my Aunt, my “nephew” or BGS, my one sister, and my mom; Five of nine accounted for, more than half. I sat. I don’t remember much. I watched people but I can’t recall what any of them were doing or saying, or what any of them looked like except two ladies, from the whole day. The two ladies were screaming, crying, sobbing. Sorry doesn’t begin to describe how I felt for them.
I don’t know what time I got in, I don’t know what time I left. I don’t remember how many times the social worker came to talk to me, or how many times the pastoral staff came to see if I needed a hug. I do remember seeing my mom walk in and the security guard starting to ask her questions. I stood up, waved, and yelled, “Mom!” She didn’t see me, I started walking toward her,  “Mom!” Still nothing. I know I can’t hear that well,  maybe I’m not yelling as loud as I think I am,” MOM!” I screamed running toward her. She heard me that time. The security guard let her in and we ran into each other arms and began crying. I’m so glad your ok, I love you, I’m so sorry this happened, we blurted out a lot of different things all at once. I’ve never been more glad in my entire life to hug my mom. Moms hugs are special, but in that moment, my mothers hug was healing, life bringing, protecting.

I met John, the man who got off his phone to let her use it in Starbucks. The man who walked with her to a police officer who made a stranger stop his car and said “bring this lady to the hospital”. The man who got in the strangers car so she didn’t have to go alone and came into the hospital to make sure she found me. John. Another angel.

Sitting down, we started talking, I told her where we were when everything happened, everything I knew about who was where. The pastoral staff came and interrupted us, trying to hug us,  to see if we wanted to talk. I guess I did cause a bit of a scene. She left, then the social worker came over. She was glad to cross one more person off her list of MIA.

“My husband!” My mom reminded her, “we still haven’t found my husband!” Now it was my turn to comfort my mother. We sat and cried, and talked for who knows how long, just waiting to hear something, from someone. I got a text. My dad was at the hospital with my husband. This times, tears of relief and joy filled our eyes. Six of nine.

Conversations

I am taking Anatomy and Physiology at a community college, just for fun. It’s possibly the best class I’ve ever taken. Today I was showing my professor a photo of a leg of a family member after it had been cleaned but before they closed the wound. There were no faces in the photo so she was not able to see who it was. A girl, walking by, stopped to look. This girl is not in my class, I’ve never seen her before. She looks, gags and literally almost throws up. 

“Oh my gosh, is that you?” she asks.
“No, it’s someone in my family.” I give her  a weird look. 
“Oh that’s disgusting. What happened?”
“Uh….well….did you hear about the bombing in Boston? That happened.”
“Oh my gosh. I hurt my foot the day after that happened and everyone said I should say I was in the bomb!” She exclaimed, almost like she was excited. “That sucks for them, I’m glad I didn’t say I had been in it or I might feel really bad or something.”

The first time today I wanted to punch someone. 

 

A conversation with the cashier at the grocery store:

“How has your day been today?”
I pause, and think…..”Fine.”
“Well you had to think, so it must have been a bad day!”
“No, I just didn’t do that much so it’s been fine. I’ve had worse.”
“Well one time when I was a little boy, my father told me to mow the lawn before I went to play. I forgot and I played all day. That night, my father played with me when he got home from work, asked how my day was, and I thought he must have forgotten about the lawn! As I was about to go to bed, my dad came in and said ‘You know, the day isn’t over until Midnight! You better start mowing before it gets to dark!’ So, keep in mind, things can always get worse!”

My jaw dropped. I walked out of the store. 

 

Not for the faint of heart: Part 1

As I sit in the laundry mat I watch the different people walking around. A young lady with a little girl, she keeps smiling at me. Two older gentlemen, obviously frequenters, chatting, laughing sharing stories. My husband, filming our laundry going around, and around, and around. To you, that might not be interesting, but for me, I know it’s his way of healing. It’s his way of telling this story. This is becoming mine. This is going to be the story of how I got here. Of how my family ended up in the hospital. For the obvious protection of my family, there won’t be names, faces, or specific injuries. There will be “my sister” and “my husband”, all family relation. If you know me and my family, you will know who I am talking about. If you don’t, than that’s perfectly fine with me. I want to respect their healing process and let them tell their story in their time, in their own way, however that looks for them. This may be graphic, what happened was graphic, if that makes you uncomfortable, stop reading. I wish I didn’t have what I saw in my head and I don’t want you to have these images in your head if it will haunt you. This is where your personal responsibility comes in, I’m not responsible for your decisions. I guess if I didn’t write it then I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone reading it, but I need to, so I’m going to. You have to choose to read it or not, please, I’m warning you, choose wisely. We didn’t get the choice to be involved, you get the choice.

Here we go.  Put your seat belt on.

Around the 17 mile mark we saw my mom. She waved and looked AWESOME. Literally, we smiled after we saw her and said “WOW! Mom looks GREAT!” Her journey to the marathon hadn’t been easy as she had qualified and won for her division in our home town then found out she had plantar fasciitis. Training in as many other ways possible, swimming, biking, and building muscle, she tried not to run because of the pain. Today, there was no pain on her face! We were ecstatic. The train to downtown Boston was filling fast and we jumped on, making our goal to beat mom to the finish line. There were a bazillion people when we got off the train. We were speed walking through the crowds, well, as much as you can when there are eight people with you. Up one street, down another….trying to get the best view and find the finish line. We got close. Dad stopped so he could have the “mom crossing the finish line with the time clock” photo and we went to right in front of the finish line so we could see from the other side. At that time, we didn’t know Dad had stopped, this is important for later in the story. As we stand there, we try pushing our way closer and closer to the front. I remember a rude lady, asking my aunt to move so her little boy could see “He’s small, so you don’t mind?” , of course not my aunt said and move to the side. The little boy moved after a few seconds and went to stand somewhere else with his mom. Those are the only people I remember standing around me. We stood there probably ten minutes, waiting, counting and recounting; if mom was running an 8 minute mile and we saw her at this time at the 17 mile marker, she had how many miles left, what time should she be here? Let’s add a bathroom break, maybe her foot started hurting and she was walking…all those math questions you learned in 3rd grade? They DO come in handy later in life. That’s when I heard the balloon pop, well that’s what my first thought was, yikes, that’s a loud balloon. After a balloon pops you don’t land on other people, why are my pants wet? What or who am I laying on? Why am I on the ground? Why is there blood everywhere? Oh, that wasn’t a balloon. I sat up, and realized I had landed on my sister. It was like  a movie, my ears were ringing, everything was in slow motion. Medics were there almost instantly.  I looked at my sister, her leg was bleeding, really bad. I immediately took my coat off and wrapped it around her leg. My husband grabbed my shoulder from behind and said “are you ok?” I nodded. I think I am. I couldn’t tell. My knees hurt but when I looked at the ground it was covered in glass, and  shrapnel (which is a technical word for shards of random metal crap). Little pellet looking things, that’s what I remember seeing clumps of, swimming in the river of blood trickling down the sidewalk. I looked up. Trying to understand what was going on. There was a man in an upstairs window, on his i-phone, taking photos and then talking to someone. Yes, in the midst of a bombing I noticed someone on their i-phone. A small child was screaming, it was my BGS (Brother’s girlfriends, son). Blood was seeping through his pants, I could see a small gash in his leg but it didn’t look that bad, I was relieved. My brother and his lady were next to me. I grabbed my brothers hand, and he said “go with ‘her’”. Absolutely. She was crying.  I looked at her leg, or I should say lack there of. I was glad it was still there, but there was a good chunk missing. It was a weird feeling, I felt like I should be sick to my stomach, so much blood, so many insides of  bodies, so much crying and fear, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t sick to my stomach. Turning to look back at my sister she was gone. I panicked. I KNEW an emergency worker had taken her but I didn’t see where she went. My husband was gone too, I prayed to God he had gone with her. My Aunt was with my BGS and I asked if she was OK, she was fine.

So three of us as far as we could tell, untouched, four of us with very obvious wounds. How did we get missed? We were in a group, together, inches apart? I can’t think about that now I told myself. My job was to look out for my brother’s girlfriend. With my brothers head in my lap and his hand in mine, I began to look around. The man was still in the window watching, that bothered me a little, maybe I felt like he should be doing something, but he wasn’t. There were a lot of people on the ground, bleeding. Nearby the emergency workers were doing CPR on a man, at that time I realized I’ve never actually seen anyone give CPR, I also thought there was no way that man would live. I said a quick prayer for him, for my family, and for all those around me. When I say quick I mean “Oh dear God help us” quick.

A volunteer asked me who the girl laying next to me was “Sister!” I replied, it was the easiest, quickest thing I could think of,  “Yes Ma’am, this is my Brother’s Girlfriend….” this was not the time to get into logistics.  They asked me her name and I told them. “Does she have any identification?” I looked around, behind me was her purse, I grabbed it. The volunteer said “here just put it on her chest, we’ll carry it with her”. That was when I looked at her chest, with her arm resting on it, bleeding. I chose not to put her purse on her wound.  The woman grabbed my hand as they put her on the stretcher, “Don’t. Let. Go.” she said in the most calming, strong voice I’ve ever heard anyone use. Reaching over to my Aunt I made sure she would go with BGS, I don’t know why she asked, of course she was. They picked up my new sister. The emergency workers looked at me just slightly strange as I held on to the stretcher for dear life. I knew I couldn’t leave her side so when we got to the ambulance I just started carrying her into the back, as if I belonged.

“Where are you going?”

“With my sister, I have to go with her. You have to let me”

“I’m sorry Ma’am, if you’re not injured I can’t let you in the back of the ambulance.”

“Can I sit in the front?”

“No, probably not, there are a lot of injured people right now.”

And the man was gone. I ran to the driver’s door, crossed my arms and stood in front of the door until the drive came up.

“My sister is in the back, I’m coming with you.”

“Go around and hop in.”

Wow, I thought, that worked! A moment of relief.

Why I’m writing

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We were there, at the first bomb. I have four family in the hospital, still, almost a week later and will continue to be in the hospital for a while more. Why am I not injured? Why did someone do this? What does my future look like as I now have an amazing amount of fear daily? This is my place to process. This is my place to dream, and not be scared, to plan a head for my future. This is also a place for people who know and care about our family to be able to learn information about the recovery of our family. That is all why I am writing.  I am a verbal processor but for me to talk is hard, sometimes words don’t come out, just tears. I can type and cry at the same time, and i know it’s ok. Talking and crying at the same time is harder. I’m not really sure how long I will post for. I don’t know how often but I felt the need to do this, so I’m going to. I don’t care if anyone reads it. I don’t care if anyone can relate or not, I’m still going to do it.

For those of you who have been so kind and generous to our family, we really really can not express how much we appreciate it. We are going to need more help as life becomes a little bit more normal. Emotionally we are all going to need ears, to listen. Please don’t story top, it’s not nice. We aren’t trying to top your story we just need to talk. We love you all dearly and ask for patience, kindness, love, and understanding as we ourselves don’t know how we feel and that makes it hard for us to understand everything that is going on.  Thank you again and please continue to keep our family in your prayers!

Kimberly