BOSTON – As respectful as the moving tributes and inspirational words have been, Tuesday can't come soon enough for those who survived the Boston Marathon bombings.
On Monday, a million people are expected to cheer on 36,000 as they race from Hopkinton to Boylston. Though April 15th is recognized as the tragic anniversary, race day is expected to be the most difficult day.
"Everyone is saying that they can't wait for Tuesday morning that they can just wake up and it's over," said survivor Sydney Corcoran, 18, who nearly died after shrapnel severed her femoral artery. Her mother Celeste, 48, lost both legs. The family was standing near the finish line cheering on Celeste's sister, Carmen Accabo, when the bombs went off.
"My sister never got to cross the finish line," Celeste said. On Monday, her sister will run again. This time Carmen will be joined by Celeste and Sydney near the stretch run and the three will hold hands as they cross the finish line.
"I'm hoping we're able to spread our arms and just inhale and exhale. I hope it feels like a weight just sliding off us when we cross that line," Sydney said.
"For me, this is huge," said Sydney, who suffers greatly from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Last week when she returned to Boylston Street and saw the medical tent and the marathon's royal blue and bright yellow colors, the memories came rushing back. "I got sick. I threw up because everything got to me," she said.
For the last decade, Heather Abbott and her girlfriends have gone to Forum restaurant to cheer on the marathon runners and that's where she was standing outside when she lost a leg in the blast. Even so, it's a tradition that even an act of terror won't stop.
"After spending time at Forum with friends, and doing my run, I'm looking forward to putting that day behind me," she said.
Last October Abbott received a prosthetic running blade from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps those injured return to sport. On Monday Abbott will wear her blade to run the last half-mile with the woman who came to her aid, Erin Chatham. Her husband, Matt Chatham, a former New England Patriots linebacker, then carried Abbott to safety.
A year ago Abbott and Chatham were strangers; now they are good friends. "I just want to run with her because if it wasn't for her, I might not be able to run," Abbott said.
Roseann Sdoia isn't sure whether she will be at the marathon on Monday. "My answer up until recently has been, 'It's a game time decision' but now I'm not really sure after Tuesday's antics at the finish line," said Sodia, 46, who lost a leg in the attack.
Five hours after the survivors gathered at the Boston Marathon finish line in a poignant tribute last Tuesday, there were flashing red lights from ambulances and police cars after two unattended backpacks were found in the same area. The incident turned out to be a hoax, but the anxiety raised was real.
Not long before the incident, JP and Paul Norden, brothers who each lost a leg in the bombings, had finished a relay walk to raise money for their charity.
"They said it was the worst feeling ever. Not only did you go through it last year but now you're there with your family and friends, and you're putting them in the same harm's way as you were in last year," she said about her conversation with the Nordens after the scare.
The tribute event marking the first anniversary last week was moving and meaningful, but race day will be traumatic. "I think for me the 15th is a date," Sdoia said. "The marathon is so much more significant. I think on Monday I'm going to have a hard time."
After the blast, several people rushed to her aid, one was firefighter Mike Materia from Engine 33, Ladder 15. Materia held her hand all the way to the hospital and never let go. As the days passed, he kept coming back.
"After I got out of hospital, we just formed a bond and a relationship," Sdoia said. Giving her one anniversary worth celebrating – the day she met her boyfriend.