Where they were

"And when really I looked at him, he had blood all over himself," she said. "So from there, I got him to the medical tent so he could at least get somebody else's blood off of him. I was concerned about him being drenched in someone else's blood. And then there were some people there, we spoke to a couple reporters. We were both very anxious. The two of us were shaking involuntarily."

THE MAYOR WAS bedridden, recovering from surgery two days prior, when the first bomb went off.

"My security ran into my room and said to me, 'Mayor, a bomb just went off at the finish line,'" Thomas M. Menino said. "And I said to him, my security person, I said, 'Get the police commissioner on the line. Let's find out what's going on.'"

Within seconds, the five-term mayor of Boston was on the phone with then-commissioner Ed Davis trying to figure out what was happening.

"He didn't have much information at that point," Menino said. "And then the second bomb went off at the Forum. ... There was a lot of uncertainty about [what was happening]."

Though the 70-year-old mayor was in a lot of pain, having fractured his right ankle just three days before, he knew he had a role to play.

"I had some of my staff from my office [with me], [and] I was using my hospital room as my office," Menino said. "I had Dot Joyce, my press person, right there, and Mitch Weiss, my chief of staff. I said to him, 'The first thing is we've got to stay calm and get a message out there that we're in control of the city,' and ensure the people of that. And ask for people to stay calm during the whole situation and the following days if we had to."

After learning that a makeshift command center was being set up at the Westin Hotel, Menino checked himself out of Brigham and Women's Hospital -- against doctors' orders -- and headed for Copley Square.

"I met with the governor, the commissioner of the City of Boston police department, the head of the state police, the FBI and some other agencies," he said. "We discussed the issues that were before us and then we did a press conference later that day."

Although he was in a wheelchair and his speech, never the envy of other politicians, was labored, Menino took part in the session with reporters. He said he felt he needed to be there, to show people the city he'd led for 21 years was in good hands.

"You're the mayor, you have to reassure people that we're in charge, we're not going to let the terrorists run our city," he said. "My job was to show the people that I was willing to be out there supporting them and giving them the best information I could in troubling times."

AS MUCH AS anyone, Karen Rand struggles with the memories of that day. She thinks about the what-ifs, the could've-beens and the should've-beens.

She remembers checking her messages. Then she remembers being on the ground after the first explosion, hearing screaming all around her, crawling to her friend despite the pain in her left leg. She told her friend she was scared, and tried to hold her hand.

But their hands slipped apart.

Her best friend died that day. And she lived.

What if they had stuck to their original plan, kept walking and been safely inside when the bombs went off? What if they had been standing just a few feet in one direction or the other?

Why did Karen Rand live, while Krystle Campbell died?

There is no answer, there will never be. And she's accepted that now.

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