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    Marathon survivor posts emotional letter to Tsarnaev

    A courtroom sketch shows Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory testifying in the trial of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Wednesday.
    Jane Flavell Collins/REUTERS
    A courtroom sketch shows Boston Marathon bombing survivor Rebekah Gregory testifying in the trial of accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Wednesday.

    Boston Marathon survivor Rebekah Gregory posted a letter to accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on her Facebook page Wednesday night, just hours after she testified on the first day of the 21-year-old’s trial in the terror attack.

    “TODAY...I looked at you right in the face....and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore,” Gregory wrote. “And today I realized that sitting across from you was somehow the crazy kind of step forward that I needed all along.”

    Gregory and her son Noah, who was 5 at the time of the blasts, were injured by the bomb allegedly dropped by the younger Tsarnaev brother on April 15, 2013. The lower part of Gregory’s left leg was torn off by the blast, and eventually she elected to have it amputated after 17 surgeries.

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    “My bones were lying next to me on the sidewalk,’’ Gregory recalled during her testimony in federal court in Boston. “I felt that was the day I would die.’’

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    Gregory also testified that she saw Krystle Campbell, who was killed in the blast, lying dead on Boylston Street.

    The letter garnered significant media attention Wednesday night, and just three hours after Gregory posted the letter it had received nearly 9,500 “likes” and was shared more than 2,000 times.

    Below is Gregory’s full-length letter:

    “Dear Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,

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    My name is Rebekah Gregory. We don’t really know each other and never will. But over the last two years, I have seen your face not only in pictures, but in almost every one of my nightmares. Moments before the first blast, your stupid backpack even brushed up against my arm, but I doubt you remember because I am no one to you. A complete stranger. And although I was merely just a blip on your radar, (someone that happened to be standing 3 feet from your designated “good spot” for a bomb), you have been so much more to me. Because you have undoubtedly been my source of fear since April 15th, 2013. (After all, you are one of the men responsible for nearly taking my child, and for the permanent image embedded in my brain of watching someone die.) Up until now, I have been truly scared of you and because of this, fearful of everything else people might be capable of.

    But today, all that changed. Because this afternoon, I got to walk into a courtroom and take my place at the witness stand, just a few feet away from where you were sitting. (I was WALKING. Did you get that?) And today I explained all the horrific details, of how you changed my life, to the people that literally hold YOURS in their hands. That’s a little scary right? And this afternoon before going in, I’m not going to lie..my palms were sweaty. And sitting up there talking to the prosecution did make me cry. But today, do you know what else happened? TODAY...I looked at you right in the face....and realized I wasn’t afraid anymore. And today I realized that sitting across from you was somehow the crazy kind of step forward that I needed all along.

    And I think that’s the ironic thing that happens when someone intends something for evil. Because somehow, some way, it always ends up good. But you are a coward. A little boy who wouldn’t even look me in the eyes to see that. Because you can’t handle the fact that what you tried to destroy, you only made stronger. And if your eyes would’ve met mine for just one second, you would’ve also seen that what you “blew up” really did BLOW UP. Because now you have given me (and the other survivors) a tremendous platform to help others, and essentially do our parts in changing the world for the better.

    So yes...you did take a part of me. Congratulations you now have a leg up...literally. But in so many ways, you saved my life. Because now, I am so much more appreciative of every new day I am given. And now, I get to hug my son even tighter than before, blessed that he is THRIVING, despite everything that has happened.

    So now...while you are sitting in solitary confinement, (awaiting the verdict on your life), I will be actually ENJOYING everything this beautiful world has to offer. And guess what else? I will do so without fear....of YOU. Because now to me you’re a nobody, and it is official that you have lost. So man that really sucks for you bro. I truly hope it was worth it.

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    Sincerely,

    Someone you shouldn’t have messed with

    ‪#bostonstrong”‬

    Kiera Blessing can be reached at kiera.blessing@globe.com.