On Sept. 11, 2001, I was forever changed. On April 15, 2013, I was once again forever changed.

We dropped Jessie, our middle child off at Pratt in Brooklyn, N.Y. in late August 2001. It was a difficult day for me that ended in a tearful goodbye. Even though I knew this day would come and I was happy for Jessie, it wasn't easy leaving her alone in a city so different from the small town she had lived in all her life. Even she found it wasn't easy saying goodbye to her family.

Sept. 11, 2001 was a beautiful day in Maine, the sky was so blue without a single cloud and the sun was shining brightly. It was one of those picture-perfect fall days. I went out in the morning to walk our golden and returned to find planes crashing into buildings. I knew Jessie was in Brooklyn, but the uncertainty of what was playing out that morning paralyzed me. I was unable to reach her by phone and it was 11:33 a.m. when she sent the following email: "Hey, I can't get out, but I saw the towers fall over from my dorm window and no phones work. There are sirens constant and it is crazy here. We are under terrorist alert, but everything is OK at Pratt." At 6:41 p.m. she wrote, "Hey yeah, I'm fine. I did hear the explosion, then a huge scream from all around. I just walked down to the hospital to volunteer. There are masses of people walking over the Brooklyn Bridge out of a huge cloud of smoke. There are people covered in ash. I heard some people in a store talking about just being allowed out of a bomb shelter…the sky out my window is filled with smoke." Relief, confusion, disbelief and anguish were the emotions of the day. What I wanted more than anything was to reach out and give Jessie a hug and tell her I loved her. I wanted her home, where at least the illusion of safety existed. I wanted the world to be as it had been before 8:47 a.m.when that first plane hit the north tower of the World Trade Center. The sad truth of that sunny, sky-blue Tuesday morning was, my life, as well as, hers, was forever changed.

Our oldest daughter, Jen, has run the Boston Marathon six times. Our son, Jon, has almost always been at the finish line to cheer her on. Patriots Day in Boston is one big party and there isn't anything he likes more.

On Monday, April 15, 2013, Jen ran in the 117th Boston Marathon. Mark, her husband, and their two little girls, Hannah and Chloe, Jon and his wife, Sarah, were all there at the finish line. She finished with a time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 13 seconds. Jen was on the phone with her brother trying to find him in the crowd when the first bomb exploded at 2:50 p.m. and they lost cell service. But Jon saw his sister. By the time I knew what happened in Boston, I also knew they were together and safe. I try not to dwell on the "what ifs," but more than a few scenarios crossed my mind. Again, relief, confusion, disbelief and anguish were the emotions of the day. I wanted to reach out and grab them from the horrific scene playing out in Copley Square. I wanted to protect the innocence of 4 year-old Chloe and 7-year-old Hannah. I wanted time to stand still in the joy of the day, not unfold into the sorrow at the finish line. The sad truth of that highly anticipated Monday was, my life, as well as, theirs, was forever changed.

It is unsettling for me to have all three of my kids and my two grandkids exposed to such sudden, senseless violence. I thank God and am forever grateful they are all safe. I try to comprehend the hate and anger, but it is impossible for me to understand hating someone you don't even know. I cannot grasp giving up your life in such a violent way, especially when you have your whole life ahead of you. My heart breaks for those who lost their lives and for those who may never heal. It is unimaginable the unhappiness and pain these two tragic events have caused so many. The sad truth is…their lives are forever changed.

Irene Maxcy lives in Warren.