Just hours after testifying at the Boston Marathon bombing trial, Rebekah Gregory, one of the survivors of the 2013 attack, wrote an open letter on Facebook to accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“Dear Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” Gregory's letter begins. “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.”
The 27-year-old, who had her left leg amputated below the knee in November after 17 surgeries failed to save it, wrote that she had been fearful of Tsarnaev ever since the twin bombings that killed three people and wounded nearly 300 others, including her.
“Up until now, I have been truly scared of you and because of this, fearful of everything else people might be capable of,” Gregory wrote. “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?”
Gregory’s testimony came after Tsarnaev’s attorney, Judy Clarke, admitted during her opening statement that he participated in the attack.
“There’s little that we dispute,” Clarke said. “It was him.”
Tsarnaev, who is accused of carrying out the attack with his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, faces 30 charges — 17 of which carry the death penalty.
“I’m not going to lie,” Gregory wrote. “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.”
Gregory made headlines last fall when she treated her leg to a pedicure and held a “last supper” party for it before having it amputated.
“I’m sure it won’t come as a shock to you when I say that we’ve grown apart,” she wrote in an open letter to the damaged limb on Facebook in November 2014. “The love that we once had has dwindled, and this relationship has become a real burden on my life.”
“So yes,” Gregory wrote in her letter to Tsarnaev. “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.”
She added: “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.”
Gregory signed her letter:
Someone you shouldn’t have messed with
It’s been an emotional few weeks for Gregory. Last Wednesday, Gregory, who married fellow Boston Marathon bombing survivor Pete DiMartino last April, revealed that the couple has decided to separate.
“After the decision was made to amputate my leg in November, I found myself having to make an even more painful choice — to separate from my husband, Pete,” she told People magazine. “Over the last several months, ’ve come to realize that going through such a horrific event together put a fast-forward on our relationship that we each handled differently.”
Gregory added: “While my heart is beyond broken, I have a certain peace knowing from day one, I truly gave it my all, and have been fully invested in keeping this marriage, and my commitment before God. I still love Pete with all of my heart and ask that everyone respect our privacy as we try to figure out our next steps. As for now, I am focused on doing what I feel is best for my son and I, and will concentrate my time on healing, both physically and emotionally.”