Friday, April 24, 2015

It was a wicked pissah!

In the days leading up to the Boston Marathon, as the forecast worsened, text messages flew among my friends.

"What are you wearing for the race?"

"Rain jacket or no?"

"Do you think we can finish before the rain starts?"

"Is an east wind a headwind or tailwind?"  (It's a headwind.)

"Freaking.  Out.  Ugh."

People often wonder what about the marathon is so addictive.  It's punishing, unpredictable, and the most amazing experience when things go right.  I've had a few races where a lot of things went right, but it's what goes wrong that keeps me going back for more.

The Boston Marathon in particular has been a real challenge for me.  With each of the four times I've run it, I've learned something more about the course and about myself.  There are some runners who do really well in Boston--my coach Maureen Roben has told me (more than once) it's a fast course, if you run it smartly.  Some of those smart runners ran the race last Monday and did very well, despite the conditions.

Me?  I'm still learning and hope to be a smart runner one day.

Before the race I kept reminding myself that I've run three rainy marathons, and two of those were among my best.  It was reassuring; maybe too reassuring.  Because that third rainy marathon, the one that wasn't among my best, the one I kept pushing out of my mind, there was a stiff headwind during that race.  Just like what was forecasted for Monday.

The Boston Marathon for me this year was slow.  It was cold.  It was wet.  And it was windy.

But it was also the Boston Marathon, a race that is always a uniquely memorable experience.  A race that I'm always thankful to be running.  The volunteers were as friendly and full of smiles as ever. The spectators, though fewer in number than previous years, were as loud as ever.

And I learned that people in Boston love their moms.  A lot.

I wore warm clothing to Athlete's Village, which I planned to discard either in the start corral or in the early miles.

I was able to shed the flannel pants before the race began, but was too cold to lose the shirt.  And I ended up wearing that soaking wet cotton shirt for the entire race.  It was heavy.  It was uncomfortable.  It left a chafing rash.  I definitely should've braved the cold and ditched it.  (Maureen's comment:  "Cotton is rotten.")

But the spectators loved it.

All along the course I ran to cheers of "Go, MOM!"  At Heartbreak Hill I heard "Spank that hill, MOM!"  Passing through Boston College, "I love you, MOM!"  (Moms of BC students, your kids might be a little homesick.)

And my fellow racers were equally jubilant.  It was as though the crazy adverse weather unburdened us all of time goals and we ran just to have fun.  We sang together the songs that blared along the race course like a bunch of drunk hockey fans.  Sweet Caroline alone carried me for miles.

If you judge a race by the wattage of the smiles on the participants rather than times on the finish line clock, you'd have to agree this year's Boston Marathon was an unqualified success.

As for my time goal?  Well, I finished a little bit faster than last year but still well short of what I trained to run and how I expected to perform.  Each year since 2013 I've left Boston feeling like I have unfinished business there, and this year is no different.

So I guess it's time to do like Shalane--eat a donut and get back on the horse.  "Because I don't feel like ending on this note, with this Boston."

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Long and Winding Road

Hello, friends, it's been a long time.  By now most of you have seen Eli's fantastic announcement:

Yes, he's getting a brother.  From Uganda.

But I thought you were waiting for a girl. . . .

We were.  And then we weren't any longer.

And I thought you were adopting from Ethiopia. . . .

That was also true.  We were trying to adopt from Ethiopia, until we switched our focus to Uganda.

Actually, I should say switched our focus back to Uganda.  Because, you see, when Brad and I originally contacted our agency about adoption, we specifically inquired about its Uganda program.  I had researched the country and was intrigued by the thought of adopting a child from "the Pearl of Africa."

But God had other plans for us at that time.  God had Eli waiting for us, in Ethiopia.

I don't recall if I've shared on this blog the story of God stirring my heart at a most crucial time; if we know each other in person, you may have heard this before.  Because it's pretty amazing.

Soon after Brad and I married we began to talk about children.  Had he wanted them? Had I wanted them?  The conversations were always about that road not taken because we were both 44 years old at the time and so, for me at least, well beyond what are commonly thought of as childbearing years.  Brad likes to tease me about masterminding our parenthood through adoption -- he calls it my "grand plan" and says he suspects I hatched it long before we were even married-- but it really grew out of those conversations.  It wasn't something that was on my mind until I sat back and questioned our assumption that we'd both missed the parenthood exit on this highway of life.  I asked "why not us?"

So late in the year 2011 we started tentatively discussing adoption.  What would that look like for us?  We had no definite plan, no timeline, we just started to look at our various options.

Then one day in December I was consumed with thoughts of adopting a child from Africa.  It was one of the possibilities being discussed, but we hadn't seriously narrowed down any of our options at that point.  I recall that day so vividly; I remember what the pull in my heart felt like, my thoughts refusing to settle on anything else.  We were travelling that day to see Brad's family for Christmas, and while we were there Brad's mom asked me if I had any desire to travel to Africa.  My heart stopped as I casually responded "Sure.  Maybe someday."  Because I hadn't even told Brad yet about the passion for Africa that had taken root inside me.

We returned home and I called a local agency that facilitates adoptions from Uganda.  They had time to meet with us the very next day, and so we went.  Our visit was only to get more information about maybe, possibly adopting, but by the time we left our future was clear.  We were meant to do this.

But the agency nudged us away from Uganda and toward Ethiopia.  Turned out its Uganda program was brand new, and we would have been one of the first families to officially sign on for it.  With this adoption being for our first child they were concerned about us going through such a fledgling program.  They talked to us about Ethiopia, and what a wonderful country it was, and we were hooked.

That was December 30, 2011.  On January 2, 2012, we submitted our application to adopt from Ethiopia and we were off!  Throughout the process of gathering paperwork, meeting with our social worker for our home study, attending adoption classes, I continued to feel that pull.  A sense of urgency I couldn't explain to my bewildered husband.

We had our dossier completed in seven weeks, and I hand-delivered it to our agency's office. Our home study was finished and approved by the state shortly thereafter and we were added to our agency's wait lists on Friday, March 2, 2012.  We were officially waiting for an infant or toddler boy or siblings, but our preference sheet specified a 3-5 year old boy.

At our first meeting with the agency, they gave us a general timeline of how things might unfold for us.  For a toddler boy in our age range, they thought we might receive a referral in about nine months.

We were on the wait lists for one business day.

We later learned the agency purposely put us on the wait lists and didn't offer us the referral until the following Monday because they wanted to give us some time to sit back and breathe a little after furiously completing all our paperwork and various approvals.

Because Eli was there, waiting for us all along.  Remember that day in December when I was consumed with thoughts of adopting from Africa?  Well, that was the day he was brought to the orphanage in Gambella.  The same exact day.

And that pull in my heart?  Those were prayers being spoken in Africa for this child, being answered here in the United States.

God is so amazing.

And now God has brought us back to Uganda.  Because there is now a child there who is ready for us.  Who needs us. And we need him.

It's been a long and winding road, this second adoption, but we are right where we should be.

At Brad's and my wedding, I walked down the "aisle" in that beautiful flower garden on the lake to The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles.

And just like it was a long and winding road that led me to this incredible man with whom I was undoubtedly meant to spend my life, a long and winding road has led us back to Uganda to complete our family.

Photo from
I look forward to continuing down that blessed road to where our child waits for us, and welcome any prayers you have for our family.  And once we have him safely home, I'll tell you the story of how God brought us to him.

In the meantime, in the weeks and months ahead, I'll tell you a little about what we've seen of the road so far.  Because there's been a lot of glory, even on the most twisty sections.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

One Year Ago Today

The Ethiopian Federal Court made us a family.

When I look back at pictures from our court trip, our Embassy trip, our first weeks and months home. . . it's hard to recognize the people in the photos.  They look like us, sort of.  But we are all so very different now.

Our boy who barely smiled?

Well, he smiles now.  A lot.

And he laughs.  All the time.

Our boy, who was so skinny he wasn't even on the BMI chart when he first came home, is now 50th percentile for weight and 80-something percentile for height.

We have all been changed in so many wonderful ways.

One thing that hasn't changed?

He still loves to climb trees.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yep . . . It's a girl!

Or will be, anyway.

Earlier this year, Brad and I began the process again to adopt a sibling for Eli; a sister, specifically.  And about a week and a half ago, with all our approvals in place and other paperwork complete, we went back on our agency's wait list.

Our home study approves us for a child of either gender age 0-5, but Brad and I are specifically requesting a girl on the older end of that age range.  And we have prayed that she comes from Eli's home region of Gambella.

When we first started talking with Eli about our plans to adopt a sister for him, he said to me several times "mommy, little sister is a boy."  Initially we thought Eli was expressing a preference for a little brother, but through continued discussion we learned he was referring to a relative in his home village.  That was a difficult conversation to have, explaining we were not able to adopt this child, whom Eli clearly loves very much. 

Sometimes the pain and loss of adoption hits in some unexpected ways.

Officially, we are family #28 on the Toddler Girl list, but that number is somewhat meaningless.  What really matters is there are several families on hold (not accepting a referral) and few families ahead of us are waiting for a 4-5 year old girl.  Our agency has asked us to be ready, in case things move quickly for us.  Again.

As you saw in our post yesterday, the bunk beds are in and Eli is eager to share his room with his sister.  He has never gotten used to sleeping in a room by himself, and although we have enough bedrooms for them each to have their own, he requested she share his room.  A request we were happy to accommodate, since it keeps both of them right down the hall from us.

And, for probably the first time ever in the history of bunk beds, Eli called dibs . . . on the bottom bunk.

We look forward to again sharing our journey with you.  We've been asked whether we think it will be easier this time around, and in some ways it might.  (As if THAT statement alone didn't just jinx us.)  If nothing else, we know more about what to expect in terms of the system inefficiencies and communication challenges.  I'm not saying I'll find them any less maddening, but they won't be a complete surprise.

Because as those of you who are intimately familiar with international adoption know, there is no way to escape the worry, fear and frustration that is bound to accompany the blessing of adoption.

So instead of praying it will be "easier," I'm praying God grants me the coping skills I need to see me through.  And the grace to appreciate the beauty in every stage of this process.

For those interested in timelines (like I always was . . . er, am), I've moved Eli's adoption timeline to a new tab and started the timeline for our daughter in the sidebar.

Here we go!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston (the Race Report)

For me, writing is a lot like running.  Both are very therapeutic; they help me clear my mind and process my emotions.  But, also like running, some days the writing takes a lot out of me and must be followed by a day or two of rest and recovery.  And like hard track repeats or a hilly long run, writing about Boston has required some recovery periods.  So thanks for sticking around while I get out the rest of my story.

In the wake of all that happened--and all that could've happened--in Boston, I know many of us runners are having a hard time celebrating our race day victories.  It seems selfish to talk about running a BQ (Boston Marathon qualifying time) or PR (personal record) in the midst of such national pain and suffering.

But I believe we must celebrate our victories, small and large, or the terrorists win. 

Eighteen of us from my running group, Runners Edge of the Rockies, ran Boston this year.  Fifteen of us ran BQ's; four ran PRs; and one finished 7th in her age group.  On a tactically challenging course, those accomplishments are very impressive.  They represent a lot of hard work and determination, and should be celebrated.  (Edited to add:  At the 2013 Boston Marathon, 59% of those who finished before the bombs went off re-qualified; in our group we had 88%, a testimony to the great training we all receive.)

I'm a pretty heavy consumer of running clothing generally and marathon merchandise in particular.  Many mornings I struggle to find something respectable to wear to a City Council meeting that evening, but I could probably run every day for a few months in a different running outfit.  I have almost thirty pairs of Nike Tempo track shorts alone.  And I refuse to even count my running skirts.  Brad knows that for birthdays and other gift-giving holidays, a trip to the Lululemon store is all it takes to make me giddy.  Diamonds?  Pffft.

So when it comes to something like the Boston Marathon . . . well, I went a bit overboard with my shopping this year.  Leading up to this year's race I thought I might never run Boston again, or at least not for a while, so I'd better stock up.  I bought almost every single piece of Boston clothing available on the Adidas web site, and in both colors when offered.  (I bought in advance online so I wouldn't have to bring a separate suitcase to Boston to haul home my purchases, and tucked it all away in the top of my closet until after I finished Boston and "earned" it.)

After everything that happened on Marathon Monday, I felt a bit of hesitation wearing my Boston gear.  I'm so very proud to have qualified and finished it again, but the thought of walking around wearing "Boston Marathon 2013" felt like I would be trying to call attention to myself as having been personally affected by the tragedy.  Like I was inviting concern and pity from strangers.

Then I realized that, again, if I didn't proudly wear my Boston gear, the terrorists win.  Because I would've worn it without question had there been no incident.

So I wore my race shirt on the plane on the way home from Boston, and I've worn Boston gear at every opportunity since then.  As much as I wish it were otherwise, having a grown-up, lawyerly job limits those opportunities, but I've flown my Boston flag high whenever possible.  On my first post-marathon run last Saturday with my friend Christine, I broke my personal one-marathon-branded-item-per-outfit rule and wore my 2013 Boston race shirt, jacket and hat.

I'm proud to have run Boston, and proud to stand in support of Boston.  In your face, terrorists.

And I'm also proud of how I ran Boston this year.  My victories were small, but I choose to celebrate them.  Evil cannot take this from me; I refuse.

This was my second time traveling the course from Main Street Hopkinton to Copley Square, and I approached the race this year knowing what I'd done wrong last time.  And hoping to do better.

In 2010, the late start time tripped me up.  I didn't fuel property before or during the race and literally ran out of steam in the final miles.  Bonked, in runners' parlance.  Not fun.

This year, I had a better plan and I actually stuck with it.  Well, to the extent I was able.  I lost two of my gels during the first few miles, so had to re-work my fueling strategy on the run.  But my revised plan worked fairly well and, with the help of the one on-course gel station, I felt pretty good throughout the race.  (Other than the lingering taste of an unfamiliar gel flavor in my mouth.  Yuck.)

I drank an entire bottle of water while on the bus and in Athlete's Village, which proved to be a little too much.  Several marathons ago I finally came to terms with the fact that each race will probably include a potty stop for me.  It's hard to accept that I must lose that time, and at the Country Music Marathon I literally left my BQ in a port-o-potty, but it's better just to take the quick break than to run for miles and miles being uncomfortable.

At about Mile 7, I realized I had to pee.  And I was kind of pissed.  (Haha, punny me.)  Pissed because I'd used the port-o-potty not once, not twice, but THREE times before the race started, the last time being literally on my way to the start corral.  So I was like "seriously, bladder?!?"

The negotiations began.  (Hopefully I'm not the only marathoner who engages in these self-negotiations while racing.)  I told myself that I could stop and use the port-o-potty, but this would be the ONE stop that is included in my race plan and I'd better not hear any squawking about needing to stop later in the race.  And, I had to wait until Mile 10.  It was simply unacceptable to need a port-o-potty stop in a marathon while still in the single digits; poor pre-race planning was all that was.

So, there it was.  One stop, at Mile 10.  I lost a little bit of time, but it was time I planned on losing and I didn't end up needing to stop again.  And at least I ran with the knowledge that I began the race sufficiently hydrated.

I wish I were one of those marathoners who could recall all the fun details of what you see along the course, but I'm not.  I'm trying to get better about taking it all in, but mostly I could tell you what my Garmin looks like.  Even in Boston, where there's so much to see.

I'll sum up my observations by saying the Boston experience is incredible.  A race like no other. 

The spectators are wildly enthusiastic and, having run the course once before, I looked forward to seeing them again.  Like we're old friends.  "Yay, the bikers are here again!  That bar looks like a place for a great bloody Mary" . . .  "The Wellesley girls look awesome this year. Such sweet young things, with such powerful lungs" . . . "Good to see Boston College students still know how to party hard on a Monday morning.  Seriously should've gone to school there."

The volunteers are also amazing.  These folks expertly handle their various roles in making our day a success.  There's no fumbling at the aid stations; their swift hand-offs help even middle-of-the-packers like me achieve our best race times.  At the finish line, the volunteers are so full of praise that I can't imagine anything short of an Olympic medal would feel better than when they place that Boston Marathon finisher's medal around your neck.  The volunteers are, every single one of them, an integral part of the well-oiled machine that is the Boston Marathon.

Years ago someone gave me this advice about the marathon:  Run the first 10 miles with your head, the next 10 miles with your legs, and the last 10k with your heart.

I did this last Monday.  Mostly.

I reigned it in during the rolling downhill of the first 10k, trashing my quads just a little bit rather than a lot.  The middle miles are always tough for me, and in Boston you reach the Newton hills at the end of those middle miles.  Notwithstanding my coach Maureen Roben's stern warning, I flew down the fairly steep descent at Mile 16 and tore myself up even more before reaching the Newton hills.  My quads screamed the entire last 10k, which is mostly downhill again, and which I imagine would be a great stretch to run swiftly if you'd been smart in those earlier miles and saved your legs.

People hear "downhill marathon" and think it means "easy."  It's not.

For the last few miles, I kept repeating to myself "right on Hereford, left on Boylston."  I'd bought a shirt at the Boston Marathon expo with this printed on the front; it represents the final two turns of the race.

I also kept repeating it because I knew Brad and Eli would be there on Boylston Street, waiting to cheer me on to the finish.

As I ran up Boylston, scanning the crowd for them, it occurred to me that having them near the finish had the drawback of slowing me down when I didn't have much race course left to make up the time. But after seeing them standing there--arms waving, huge smiles on their faces, screaming my name, Eli proudly ringing his cowbell--I realized it also gave me the boost I needed to finish the race strong.

According to my Garmin, I ran the final 0.4-mile stretch at a 7:40 pace, by far the fastest of the day.  On legs that were basically jello.  (My Garmin read 26.4, instead of 26.2, because I suck at running tangents.)  And, because of this boost from Brad and Eli, I ran a Boston qualifying time at the Boston Marathon, a longtime running goal of mine.  With only 21 seconds to spare.

That's the power of love, right there.

The 2013 Boston Marathon was my 13th marathon, a coincidence that I felt certain was to bring me good luck.  The back of my "right on, left on" shirt says this:

"Lucky '13."  It was the reason why I bought it.

After all that happened, a Boston Marathon shirt that says "Lucky '13" seems odd.  But I guess I really was lucky.

Very lucky.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston: The Next 24 Hours

Last Friday I left off writing at the point where I'd found Brad and Eli.  People have asked me how long it took to find them after the bombs went off, and the truth is I had no clue.  It could've been five minutes, it could've been an hour.  Time lost all meaning.

What I recall of that time is my mind bouncing back and forth between "they wouldn't have been there, they would've left Boylston Street after I ran by" and "they were there because of ME; if anything happened to them, it was because of ME."

I finally looked at my cell phone today to see how long it had been.  As soon as I found Brad and Eli I sent a text to my friend Christine, asking her to let me know she was alright.  Out of all my friends who were running Boston that day, Christine was the only one who I knew planned to finish after me.  That text was sent at 3:20 Boston time, so it had taken me 30 minutes to find Brad and Eli.

After the bombs exploded, I became disoriented in the chaos and didn't recall in which direction was the family meeting area.  I asked a race volunteer and he pointed in the direction of the finish line.  He told me he didn't think I'd be allowed to go that way, since they were trying to move people away from the finish line.  But he also seemed to understand I had to go that way, and didn't try and stop me.

When I saw Brad, we threw our arms around each other and, with Eli sandwiched between us, we stood on the sidewalk clutching one another like one of us was dangling off a cliff.  The rush of relief I felt upon seeing them is impossible to describe.

The three of us started making our way back to the hotel.  Brad and I each had one of Eli's hands and, for probably the first time ever, Eli held onto me as tightly as I to him.  I recall there were people heading in all directions, but mostly away from the finish line, making it difficult to navigate through the crowd to our hotel near the finish line.  I remember seeing a group of college-aged guys running by, urging people to follow them to Mass General to donate blood.  Every person around me seemed to wear the same expression of dazed confusion mixed with panic.

Our hotel was only a few blocks away, so we reached it relatively quickly.  The lobby was full of people and the hotel staff were trying to hustle the guests directly to the elevators and up to their rooms.  I would learn later that many people were unable to make it back to their hotels, which is probably why our lobby was so full.  As soon as we walked in, I was asked for identification or a room key.  I pointed to Brad, but before I could say anything the hotel manager saw us and confirmed for the employee we were guests of the hotel he'd seen for the past few days.  Being a conspicuous family will sometimes have its perks, apparently.

When we got to our room, we turned on the t.v.  Eli hopped up on the bed to play with his Nabi (kind of like a kids' version of an iPad) and put his headphones on.  Brad sat on the edge of the bed while I paced the room, checking my phone, desperate to hear news of Christine.  We watched the finish line video of the bombing several times before the image of the runner in the bright pink top and baseball cap caught my eye:  Dear God, was that Christine?  I checked the photos on my phone from that morning and knew it was.  That was her hat, her bright shirt.

With my family safe beside me, my prayers turned to Christine.  Please, God, let her be alright.  I lost one of my best friends on 9-11, and couldn't bear that happening again.  The news coverage showed that finish line video over and over, and each time I told myself to be thankful that it showed her running from the blast.  Toward the finish line.  That if she'd been hit she wouldn't be running.

An hour or so later I reached Christine's dad in her hotel room, and knew she was safely back at the hotel.  I took a long shower, standing in the tub in a daze, trying to rinse off the layer of anxiety and guilt-infused relief that was making me tremble.  How could a day that started so brightly, with such hope and anticipation, end so horribly?

When I finally emerged from the shower, the t.v. was off.  Brad told me that, although Eli was wearing his headphones, when the news reported an eight-year-old boy had been killed, Eli pulled his headphones off and asked "little boy hurt?"

At this point, dinnertime was approaching and we decided to try and get some food for all of us.  I hadn't eaten a real meal all day.  We suspected it would be difficult to leave the hotel, so Brad cancelled the reservation he'd made for our nice post-race, celebratory meal and went online to book a 6:00 reservation in the hotel restaurant.  Looking back, this seems a little silly, like we were oblivious to what was happening.  But doing something normal, like booking a table at a restaurant, was a soothing act.  Like order would be restored if we just went about our business normally.

We went down to the hotel lobby at 6:00, and were greeted by the hotel manager as we stepped off the elevator:  Can I help you?

The lobby was empty.  Through the glass front doors, we could see the SWAT team posted outside our hotel, the police crime scene tape spanning the length of street in front of our building.  We had no idea our hotel was on lockdown, and seeing this was like someone taking our world that was already on edge and tilting it another fifteen degrees.

We told the hotel manager we had a reservation at the restaurant, and he calmly and pleasantly told us the hotel was on lockdown.  The police department had ordered that nobody be permitted in the lobby.  The restaurant was closed.  He warily told us we could leave the hotel if we wished, but we would not likely be able to return.  He said room service was operating, but to expect long delays because they were very busy.  Of course they were, in a hotel where most rooms were occupied with runners who also hadn't eaten all day long.

Looking back, I appreciate so much the calm manner with which this hotel manager addressed us.  As I was standing there, taking it all in, my emotions threatening to spiral out of control--lockdown! SWAT! police tape!--his calm voice brought me back down to earth.  And he seemed to appreciate that we had a small child standing there.

Nevertheless, Eli saw and heard all of this, too.  As we stepped back on the elevator to return to our room, the questions from him began.  His fear and anxiety were palpable.

He was most concerned about the armed SWAT team.  Who were they?  What were they doing there? Where Eli is from, men in uniforms bearing guns hurt his people.  They are feared.  We explained to Eli that those men were there to protect us.

Protect us from what?

That's the question we couldn't answer.  Not really.  We told Eli that there were some bad people in the world, and they'd done something bad that day near the race.


That we didn't know.  We told him sometimes only the bad people know why they do things.  We tried to reassure him that although there are bad people in the world, there are so many more good people.  People who will help you, people who will protect you.  Like the men in front of our hotel.  That he wasn't to worry.  We were together and we were safe.

The next morning we ventured out of the hotel for breakfast.  The streets and sidewalks were eerily vacant, a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle we observed in the days leading up to the race.  There were police vehicles on every block and several news crews clustered at one intersection.  More SWAT teams.  A (presumably) bomb-sniffing dog and his police handler.  A few other pedestrians were out; mostly people with their suitcases, who were trying to leave the area.  It was somber.  Desolate.

We left early for the airport, not knowing what chaos we'd find there.  Just prior to checking out of our hotel the news reported a "security incident" on an incoming flight at Logan Airport.  The live video feed showed a plane grounded at the end of a runway, with all the baggage removed and sitting off to the side.  A safe distance away?

Our taxi driver apologized to us for the incident.  He seemed personally offended that guests of his City had to experience the tragic events of the previous day.  Surprisingly, the airport was relatively empty when we arrived and security screening was fast.  Homeland Security officers were there, and interviewed Brad about what he'd seen at the race.

Since we've been home, I've asked Eli if anything that happened in Boston was scary.  He said yes, but when I tried to talk further with him about it, it was clear he wasn't ready.

It breaks my heart that this boy, who lived among violence in his country of birth, was again so close to violence.  Brad told me that when the bombs went off, they were so close they could hear and feel the explosions, but Eli didn't react at all.  We don't know whether he didn't react because he didn't understand what had happened, or if the explosions didn't seem all that uncommon to him.

When we adopted Eli, I had the notion we were taking him away from the violence of his birthplace.  I won't use the word "rescue;" that makes me sound noble, and the simple fact is we adopted Eli because we wanted to have a child.  But I did think we'd be able to provide Eli with a safe home, in a safe country.  I now see how naive I was, because none of us can ever know we are truly safe.

I don't know whether it's the innocence of youth or Eli's incredible resilience, but he wants to go back to Boston.  If asked about his trip, he'll tell you about driving the Duck Boat and about our visit to the Children's Museum.  He brought my marathon medal to show and tell at school; he's proudly worn his Boston Marathon t-shirt.

And I agree with Eli.  I want to go back, too.

Grosz family of three, checking in for Boston 2014.  Join us?