April 15, 2014 at 5:43 PM ET
As the city marked the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing on Tuesday, an atmosphere of anxiety mixed with excitement over next week's race characterized a solemn day.
TODAY's Natalie Morales, who will run in this year's marathon on Monday, has been in Boston speaking with survivors, victims' families and officials. The day, she said, has been full of mixed emotions as the city remembers the tragedy while looking ahead.
"You better believe Boston is ready to run again,'' Morales said.
Survivors like Heather Abbott, 38, who lost her left leg in the explosion near the finish line, are hoping Monday's race will help overshadow the memory of last year's tragedy.
"I've been looking forward to coming back to the marathon and creating some new memories, and this year the woman who helped me get away from the area of the bomb last year is running the marathon,'' Abbott told Morales. "So I'm going to be jumping in at the last half mile and finishing the race with her. I think I can do it."
Abbott, who is from Newport, R.I., was entering a restaurant with friends near the finish line when the bomb went off, badly injuring her left leg, which had to be amputated.
"It has not been easy,'' Abbott said. "It's a whole new world that I didn't know anything about. It feels like a slow-moving process, but when I look back and realize that it's only been a year and I'm getting around pretty well, I couldn't be happier with my recovery process."
She received her first prosthetic leg in June and today, she's able to wear high heels, go running and paddleboard.
"Although they're not quite the same, at least I feel a little bit more like myself," she said.
Two bombs set off on April 15, 2013 killed three spectators, wounded more than 260 people and took the limbs of 16. Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who has pleaded not guilty, will go on trial starting in November, with federal prosecutors seeking the death penalty.
Vice President Joe Biden and local officials were in Boston Tuesday for a tribute to the survivors, heroes and the victims' families. The anniversary was marked by a moment of silence at the finish line at 2:49 p.m., the time when the first bomb went off, followed by the National Anthem, the tolling of church bells, and the raising of an American flag. President Obama also held a moment of silence at the White House.
"It's not an easy day,'' Abbott said. "It's more difficult than I anticipated (with) so many reminders and knowing that I'll see all the other survivors and the victims' families today."
Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs, is looking forward to a wedding and a baby on the way. He hopes his injuries will help create better prosthetics for future patients. The Norden brothers, J.P. and Paul, who each lost a leg in the blast, are looking forward to playing basketball again.
"Every day for us has just gotten better and better,'' Paul Norden told TODAY. "We really do feel thankful and grateful."
Positive outlooks have bonded many of the survivors together.
"Those other survivors are like family to me now,'' Abbott said. "I would do anything for them. I lean on them for support. They're the only other people, 15 people, going through what I'm going through at the exact same time as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing."
"Eventually you come out on the other side and life goes on,'' Celeste Corcoran, who lost both legs, told Morales.
That determination is embodied by a father-son duo who have become fixtures at the Boston Marathon since 1981. Dick Hoyt, 74, has pushed his son, Rick, 52, who has cerebral palsy, in a special wheelchair during the Boston Marathon for more than 30 years. Last year was supposed to be their final running of the marathon, but it came to an abrupt halt a mile from the finish line when the bombs went off. Now "Team Hoyt" will compete one last time on Monday.
"Well, soon as the bomb had happened, I just said, 'We gotta do it one more time for these people,''' Dick Hoyt told Morales. "Our advice is, 'Yes, you can.' There isn't anything you can't do as long as you make up your mind to do it, and I know that these people will not give in to anything."