A survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing penned a powerful letter Wednesday to the man who admitted committing the act of terror.
Rebekah Gregory, who endured more than a dozen surgeries as a result of the blast and now uses a prosthetic leg, published the letter on Facebook hours after testifying in court against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Here's the full text (bold added for emphasis):
Dear Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,
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.
[sharequote align="right"]"You can't handle the fact that what you tried to destroy, you only made stronger."[/sharequote]
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.
Someone you shouldn't have messed with
The letter was widely shared on social media Wednesday night, amassing more than 12,000 "likes" on Facebook and nearly 3,000 shares.
"Oh my, I am speechless....in awe, and filled with that Strong Boston Pride," one individual commented on the post.
"Wow! Goosebumps. You amaze and inspire me more than I could ever express. Congratulations on such a monumental step in moving forward with life!" echoed another.
"Powerful," said one more.
Tsarnaev's lawyer admitted in federal court Wednesday that her client is the man who planted the bomb on the ground in 2013.
“It WAS him,” Judy Clarke, one of the nation’s foremost death-penalty defense attorneys, said of Tsarnaev in a startling opening statement in the most closely watched terrorism trial in the U.S. since the Oklahoma City bombing nearly 20 years ago.
Laying out an argument aimed at saving Tsarnaev not from a guilty verdict but from the death penalty, Clarke said that the defense will not try to “sidestep” his involvement in the “senseless, horribly misguided acts carried out by two brothers.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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