For the last few weeks, as this terrible anniversary approached, I was alternately haunted and comforted by two strikingly different images, and they played like videos in my brain, just before sleep, complete with deafening sound and visceral smell.
In one of them, the bombs go off and a pair of firefighters from Engine 33 and Ladder 15, Frankie Flynn and Mike Kennedy, bolt from the firehouse, like sprinters out of the starting blocks, and they are running, chugging, side by side, down Boylston Street.
They come upon people lying on the sidewalk outside the Forum.
Lingzi Lu, a student from China who loved everything about Boston, is lying there, dead. Eight-year-old Martin Richard from Dorchester is lying there, dead. His little sister Jane is sitting on the sidewalk, stunned, her hair singed, looking down at where her left leg used to be. Their mother Denise has blood seeping from her eye, their father Bill’s legs are shredded by shrapnel, their brother Henry’s soul is shredded by loss. Severed limbs lay scattered. Rivulets of blood meander into the cracks on the sidewalk.
As smoke lifts and eerie silence gives way to moans of pain and cries of anguish, Frankie Flynn and Mike Kennedy and a score of other firefighters, police officers, EMTs, and passersby go to work, tying off gushing legs, reassuring the wounded, saving lives.
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