I’m speaking in chapel today at Webster Christian School. I am REALLY nervous! I have my speech written out (see below), but I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to say and I really want to express to these kids what God is teaching me, and I just don’t know the best way to say it! I am praying that God gives me the words!
WCS Chapel Speech:
On April fifteenth, nine members of our family were watching people cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. We had dropped mom off at the starting line at 7am. We had jumped on the subway and gotten off at the halfway point to cheer her on as she passed. It was so inspirational! Watching people run past and encouraging them to keep going. Marathon runners are amazing One guy stopped right by us and threw up on the ground. So gross! After mom ran past at the halfway point, we jumped back on the subway with thousands of other people and made it downtown. There were people EVERYWHERE. The streets were packed. It took us forever to get to the finish line and even then we couldn’t see anything there were so many people crowding the sidewalks.
There was an announcer saying people’s names as they crossed. We were trying to get closer. We kept pushing forward towards the fence lining the street. My sister and aunt were right in front of me. My brother in law was right next to me and my brother and his girlfriend and her son were to my left. I couldn’t really see. I stood on my tiptoes. I was so worried mom would come and we wouldn’t be able to see her. Dad wasn’t with us. I kept wondering where he was and I kept texting him where we were but he didn’t respond. Dad’s friend Mike kept walking away to see if he could find him.
I stood on my tiptoes trying to see. My brother-in-law held his camera up in the air, snapping pictures of the runners. Without warning, the first bomb exploded throwing us all into the air and back onto the pavement. I remember flying backwards and a loud noise. We were 10-15 feet away from it. The sound was deafening. Thick smoke made it hard to see what was going on around us. Everything was muffled and chaos broke out immediately. I didn’t even hear the second bomb. I think I was knocked out for a minute or two. I only found out later there were two bombs when police asked me if I was at the first or second bomb.
I woke up on the ground and saw lots of blood on the sidewalk. It was all smoky and cloudy. My sister was standing over me stuffing her coat into the back to my leg. I realized that the blood on the sidewalk was coming from me. She told me to take off my jacket, then she was gone. I took off my jacket and tied it around my leg as tight as I could. I couldn’t hear, everything was really muffled. I learned later that both my ear drums had been blown as a result of the blast. I saw my phone and camera laying on the ground next to my backpack so I picked them all up and tied them to the sweatshirt on my leg so they wouldn’t get lost. I didn’t see anyone else. I kept blacking out from the loss of blood. My sister yelled at my brother-in-law to stay with me and she was going to stay with Pete’s girlfriend, Rebekah. My aunt was helping Rebekah’s son Noah. Colton took off his belt and tied it around my leg too. I was still losing a lot of blood.
I remember thinking that the people who make movies got it right. Bombs in movies are just like that. The slow motion, the muffled sounds, the chaos and screams in the background. I felt like I was watching a movie. It still seems unreal. I was a victim of a terrorist attack and was seriously injured in a bomb. Isn’t that crazy? I never thought that would be something I could say about myself.
I lay back on the sidewalk and thought I was probably going to die. I knew I was injured badly and I knew I was losing a lot of blood. I was surprised that I was so calm. I felt very at peace. I always thought I would be scared to die. Even thouh I knew I was going to heaven, I never thought I would be able to experience such peace in the midst of such chaos.
By the time they put me in a wheel chair to get me to an ambulance I couldn’t see at all. I thought I was going to be blind. Colton held my hand until they put me in the ambulance. They wouldn’t let him come with us because there wasn’t any room. There was another man who was injured in the ambulance already. He grabbed my hand and kept telling me it was going to be ok. His name was Steve. The ambulance driver kept yelling into the radio that he had amputees and we needed to get to the hospital. That’s when I realized I was probably going to lose my leg. Steve lost his right leg below his knee. We were in rehab together for a few weeks and have kept in touch since I left Boston. A few weeks ago we went back to Boston for the World Champions parade and I was able to see him and meet his wife and son.
My right leg was cut by some sort of shrapnel, severing my main artery and two main nerves. I had three surgeries that first week. I lost one muscle on the back of my knee and part of my calf muscle was taken out. I was in the ICU for two days and in the hospital for about a month. I still have no feeling from the knee down. It may return, but will take a long time to know if the nerves will regrow. Until a few months ago I couldn’t even move my ankle or foot at all. Now I can, but only very small movements.
While I was in the hospital I experienced something I never had before. I woke up almost every day with a smile on my face and a positive attitude. I was able to laugh with the nurses and cheer up others who were struggling. I had absolutely no strength of my own so I knew that I was living each day on God’s strength. I was in extreme pain almost every day, but I still was able to smile and remain positive. I knew people were praying for me because I could FEEL their prayers. I was able to get up every day because you guys and thousands of other people were praying for me. It was an amazing feeling and people in the hospital noticed it too. My physical therapist sat down with me over coffee a few weeks ago and asked me how it was possible that I was such a light in that dark time. She said they all discussed it at the hospital. And I was able to share my faith with her and tell her that it wasn’t me. It was the strength of God working through me.
Don’t get me wrong. There are still days that I cry all day. At the beginning, I thought I would never walk again and I was so scared. And still there are days when I get so frustrated with my foot and so upset that I can’t feel it. And even more upset that I might never be able to wear cute shoes again! Those are the days that I have to make myself get out of bed and do my exercises and put on some praise music and sing really loud even if I don’t want to. Those are the days that I need to CLING so hard to God’s promises.
I have seen God working every single day. 2 Corinthians 12:9 Says But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
God’s strength is made perfect in weakness and that really became true to me. In the hospital I had no strength, I knew that His strength was carrying me. And now that I am getting stronger, I am learning that I need God more than ever. He is really teaching me dependance on Him. He is my refuge in this time of trouble and I need to remind myself of this every day, every minute. Psalm 32:7 says “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance”
So no matter what you are going through, no matter how hard things are, God is ever faithful. He is constant. Always the same. Always our refuge, our hiding place. He has strength for us when we don’t have the strength to go on. He always hears us when we cry for him. I could have died in the bomb, but I didn’t. God saved my life and obviously still has things for me to do, and I hope that I never forget that He never left me and He never failed me.