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A World Away with Thoughts in Boston

Deployed or at home, I like to end my day with a run. You don’t need much, just open road or trail (or my least favorite a treadmill). I’ve run almost every day of my 4+months in Afghanistan, including the races on base. We are currently in the process of planning a race in conjunction with Army Reserve Affairs, so running has been a topic of discussion more than normal in the Red Cross office.

Having run on a team for 8 years of my life, I have many friends who are also runners. Today, just like every other Boston Marathon day for the last few years, I awaited my friends’ finish times. While we are 8.5 hours ahead in Afghanistan, our office is open 24/7 and I work the night shift (daytime hours in the US). As the race went on, I received updates on times and finishes from back home. It was a busy night of cases, so I figured I’d read more about the race when I left in the morning.

As we were getting ready to walk to the DFAC (dining facility) for midnight chow, news flashed onto the TV in the canteen about the explosions at the finish line of the marathon. My eyes were glued to the set, then I scrambled back to the computer to email home as fast as possible to try and find out what was going on. I racked my brain to try and remember who was running and who was there watching. Needless to say, I missed chow completely.

I never thought that while deployed to Afghanistan I’d be worried about bombs at home. We experienced IDF (indirect fire) on Bagram during one of the races. However, seeing it on TV in the US and not knowing what was happening or why was much more frightening than experiencing it first hand.

ECMs (Emergency Communication Messages) are our primary Red Cross mission in Afghanistan. The volume is heavier at night due to the time difference.  The messages  kept coming and we kept working, but I anxiously awaited word from home hoping everyone was safe.  I wondered why anyone would want to cause harm to runners, especially at an event like Boston. Eventually, I was able to hear that everyone I knew personally was safe. Of course, that certainly didn’t change the fact that runners and spectators were injured and killed. I cannot imagine attending such a historic, positive, and exciting event only to have it end in tragedy.

As I get ready to go on my run and Bagram’s day shift wakes up to the news, our thoughts and hearts go out to Boston and those affected.

**Right now, if you are in Boston, the best way to bring peace of mind is to let your loved ones know you are safe. If you are deployed, you can also visit the Safe and Well site to search registrants.