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GOLIS: Standing by Boston - even as we leave

BOSTON - On Monday afternoon, we were sitting in an airplane about to leave the gate at Boston's Logan airport when my cellphone buzzed.

News bulletin: Explosions reported near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Minutes earlier, our taxi to the airport passed along the Charles River, near the city center, and from an elevated roadway, we could see a parade of runners streaming toward the finish line.

And now this. It's difficult to recapture all the thoughts that go through your mind at such a moment. There is disbelief and shock, hope for the best and fear for the worst. Are family members safe? How many people are harmed? Those runners we just saw — are they OK? Who would do this and why? And what does this mean for people sitting in an airplane at this very moment?

Then the phone rang. It was my son, who lives in Boston, wanting to know if we were OK. There were two bombs, he said. There are reports that they may close the airport.

Moments before, we were busy revisiting memories of three happy days with our son and his family. On Saturday, along with countless other families, we explored the Boston Children's Museum in the company of our 2-year-old granddaughter.

On Sunday, we strolled Newbury and Boylston streets, the heart of what Bostonians call the Back Bay. The neighborhood was alive with locals and track-suited visitors, all celebrating Patriots Day weekend and counting down the hours until the 117th Boston Marathon on Monday.

After lunch at a sidewalk table, we passed near the finish line, steps from the Boston Public Library and our favorite Boston hotel, the Lenox. It was a fine day in Boston.

Back on the airplane, we could hear other passengers sharing reports of explosions, only six miles away.

Then the captain came on the public address system. We don't know much about what has happened, he announced, but if anyone concerned for the well-being of a friend or a loved one wants to return to Boston, we'll hold the doors open for a few minutes. If you want to leave, people will understand.

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