NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) – Gerald Jackson remembers it like it was yesterday. 2013. The Boston Marathon.
The North Texan had trained his sister Lisa Bean for months, to put her best on display at the legendary 26.2 mile run.
Gerald and Lisa’s parents were there as well. He and mom and dad had seen Lisa around mile 18.
Looking good. Looking strong. Once she went by, they hustled back to get to the finish line so they could see her cross.
Gerald said they were two blocks away, then they heard the first boom.
Lisa heard it, too. While she was on pace to cross the finish line, just about the same time the blasts went off, one of her achilles began to bother her down the final few mile stretch. She slowed. Then she walked a bit. That, could have made the difference for her.
She said it was hard to comprehend what she had heard. She said it was just weird, seeing the chaos, people everywhere in the streets.
As the reality of what had happened began to set in, Gerald and his parents tried to edge closer to the finish line, to find Lisa. The closest they ever got, was a block away.
“We saw people running toward us, and we were like, ‘what’s going on?'”
As the chaos unfolded, some of Lisa and Gerald’s friends were watching it all unfold on tv and online. They were texting Gerald. No one saw Lisa. But at the same time, she was being diverted to a nearby park, with all the runners who were coming in after the blasts.
She remember that moment when she heard what had happened.
“people were saying there was a bomb. I just couldn’t comprehend. And all I could think about was oooh, my parents. My family, was at the finish line. “
As minutes turned to hours, Gerald and his parents became part of the sea of people desperately searching, waiting for any word.
What they didn’t know, was that Lisa and other runners, had been taken to safety at a nearby park.
She said it was very cold, but a lot of the nearby residents had begun to come into the park, with garbage bags. Bags the runners could use to cover up with, and stay warm.
For three hours, Gerald and his parents searched for Lisa. For three hours, Lisa wondered, and hoped, that her family was nowhere near the finish line when the bombs went off.
Finally, after hours of agonizing, Lisa used a strangers phone, to send a text to her mothers phone. The simple message, “I’m safe.”
When they all finally met back at the hotel, both Gerald and Lisa described a pretty tearful moment. And a grateful moment. Grateful that Lisa’s time had slowed toward the end. Grateful that Gerald’s mother had needed to slow down getting back to the finish line.
They were among the lucky. But what they lived through, and what they saw in the hours and days that followed, has left them all with a new perspective.
Gerald sums it up best.
“Life is short, and you don’t know when those moments happen. So take each moment every day, to appreciate the people in your life, the things you do, and the things you have.”
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