Jeff Bauman: Thank you Boston! ---- Boston: Thank you Jeff Bauman!
It’s been a year since the bombing at our marathon, and I’m sure there will be many articles written about it and testimonials given and pictures shown. I don’t know that I have much to add, except for the one important thing that needs to be said, and which I’m not sure others will get around to saying: Thank you.
Thank you to everyone who rushed to our aid in those terrible moments after the bombs went off. Without your courage, I would not be alive today.
Thank you to all the doctors and nurses who cared for me. Without your kindness, my family and I would have felt so much more pain.
Thank you to the law enforcement officers who worked so hard to identify and capture the bombers, and to the Watertown P.D., who cornered them. You always acted like we were people, not victims.
Thank you to everyone who wrote messages and sent gifts and prayed for me. You will never understand how much it meant. You inspired me every day.
Thank you to my fellow survivors, especially the ones who are now my friends. We laughed so much together, even though we were hurting. We laughed about the exercises, like trying to catch a ball without falling over. We laughed about the scars. We even laughed when strangers told us, “You’re doing so well. You make it look so easy.” Sometimes, it’s easier to smile with someone than to admit to them how much it really hurts.
I am so sorry for the four we lost and all their family and friends. We stood together for a moment at the finish line, and I will stand with you forever. I know my pain is nothing compared to yours, not just today but every day.
I am lucky, I know. Lucky to be alive. Lucky to live in this city. Lucky to have your love and support. That’s why I want to say to everyone who donated any amount, large or small, especially the children who broke open their piggy banks to send us their life savings: Thank you. You changed our lives.
To those who attended fundraisers and charity events: Thank you. You made us feel like part of something.
To everyone at the Bruins and Red Sox games when I raised the flag or threw out the first pitch: Thank you. I didn’t want to do it. I thought it was pathetic that I couldn’t get out of my wheelchair. I thought that if I tried to stand up and fell down, then everyone would laugh at me. Or even worse, feel sorry for me.
But when I heard you cheering, I knew that I didn’t have to prove anything. You were happy to have me there, just the way I was. I’m sorry the Bruins lost.
I am thankful today, especially, for my family and friends, the most loyal people on earth. For many months, while I was in intensive rehab, my goal was to walk in the Boston Marathon this year. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to. And I wanted to prove to you that the bombers had lost, because I was as strong as I ever was. I felt like I owed everyone that for believing in me.
Recently, though, I’ve decided not to walk. I am going to spend Patriots Day with my family and friends, because right now, that’s the healthiest thing for me. And because, in the end, this city doesn’t need me to prove anything. You prove every day what kind of city you are: The best in the world.
So thank you Boston. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for kicking ass. Thank you for proving that nothing will ever stop us from being who we are. Like Papi said, this is our city, and I’m proud to be a part of it.