Julie DiGiovine | Photo by Nick Manory

Julie DiGiovine | Photo by Nick Manory

"Today is a holiday in Massachusetts -- Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the  earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition.  Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I'm supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city." - President Barack Obama

This weekend my boyfriend, Stephen and I visited Marathon Sports on Boylston Street and he purchased a 2013 Boston Marathon shirt. We held hands walking down the street talking about all the excitement that was in the air, watching people set up for the big event. We met a former Olympian named Hernan Barreneche. He is from Colombia (the same country Stephen's family is from).  We were amazed to learn that he had been running the marathon for years and at 73 he was running again on Monday.

When we heard what happened yesterday we were shocked. We tried to think of anyone we knew that may have been affected and immediately reached out to them. Thankfully, the people we knew were safe. But, our hearts were broken for those who were not because in Boston, we are one big family.

It's hard to believe that one of the bombs went off in front of where we were standing only a day before... to think that I did my college internship right in that building and that I worked just around the corner for three years. It's terrifying to think that my boyfriend worked in a building right there on Boylston Street. I can't imagine what people must have felt as they searched for their loved ones, found out they were harmed and couldn't be by their side, or worse... lost them completely.

Say what you will about our city and its people, that we are unfriendly, that we drive like maniacs and have terrible accents. But, the truth is... we are a strong, giving, and unbreakable community with huge, fierce hearts and deep, unbending roots. When I heard that the blood banks in Boston were already full today I thought, "that's my city."

Last night, Stephen held the marathon shirt he bought in his hands and said, "I can't believe this happened." I told him to save the shirt because one day, he can tell our children about the day Boston stayed strong and how the entire nation banded together.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to those who were harmed or affected by this horrific act. We learned that our new friend, Hernan won first place in his age division and we just hope that he is safe.

The love and concern we have heard from those around the world, and just next door, is so moving and so appreciated. I want us to remember this feeling of unity and community in good times and in bad. We will get through this difficult time and come out the other side stronger than ever.

Boston, you're our home.