STORY: Boston Memorial Service

Written by Jana Sweeny

The streets were lined with people. Young and old, dressed in suits and motorcycle jackets, and lots of clothing indicating where people’s hearts were – Boston. The memorial service for the victims of last Monday’s Boston Marathon bombing had a tone of resilience and community.

People were careful with each other, making sure strollers and wheel chairs could get by on the very crowded sidewalks. They waited patiently outside as police patrolled the crowds, talking about their experiences, but mostly talking about how much they love Boston.

Shane Manfred, owner of Boma, a restaurant near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross stepped outside to put up a “B Strong” banner and then slid back the doors opening his restaurant to the street. Even though they aren’t normally open at that hour, he invited people inside and turned on the TV so that people could listen to the service. People immediately gathered inside and near the opening. They held each other’s hands and shared tables with strangers.

American Red Cross’s disaster mental health workers circulated among the crowd, stopping to talk to people. Some needed to tell their stories, many cried as strangers reached over and gave them an understanding pat on their backs.

Boston Vigil 4.18.13
Kate Taylor listens Julio Cesar from Mexico who was in town to run in the Boston Marathon.

Julio Cesar began chatting with Red Cross volunteer, Kate Taylor, a trauma nurse from Port Charlotte, FL, and then began to tell his story. He is a volunteer for the Boston Athletic Association and was proudly wearing his yellow windbreaker with the insignia. He is a runner who likes to volunteer at the race every year.

When the blast occurred 100 feet from him he ran towards it to see how he could help. “Everything immediately went from happy to devastated- in an instant,” he said.

His immediately began receiving panicked text messages from family and friends in Mexico. Later that night, when he finally got home he tried to tell his family about what he saw, but he couldn’t capture it in words. He began to cry and cried for hours. He has had trouble sleeping and goes out running to clear his mind and to exhaust himself so he can rest.

Kate listened and hugged him while his eyes filled with tears. After he finished his story, she began, very gently to offer advice on how he can deal with his shock and grief. She took his information so a volunteer can follow up with him to ensure he has access to counseling services and make sure that he is doing OK.

After a few minutes, Kate moved on to offer someone else comfort and Julio began to talk to the person next to him, sharing their stories and their grief and beginning to recover together.

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