Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, center, speaks at a news conference on April 16, 2013, in Boston, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick was on his way home from the 2013 Boston Marathon, looking forward to a rare free afternoon gardening. He had crowned the winner of the women's race. He had no appointments. Then his daughter called to say she had heard two booms near the finish line and everyone was running.

Before Patrick (D) could make a call, emergency personnel were on the phone, fearful that the world's most famous footrace had been bombed.

For the next five days, Patrick was part of the aftermath of the attack, from the grieving to the manhunt and the decision to shut down a major U.S. city. For the ensuing year, he has been part of the region's attempt to overcome and make sense of what happened one year ago Tuesday.

"So much of what happened brought us together," he said Monday in an interview in his office. "It made a difference for us in the moment. It also has made a difference to us in our healing."

Patrick will speak Tuesday at ceremonies honoring the injured, first responders, medical personnel and others affected by the attack. He said he will follow three survivors in the program, and is still trying to figure out how to describe the sense of community so many people here believe was strengthened by that horrific 12 seconds and the response that followed.

"This is a big city and it's a big commonwealth, and yet we are a community," he said. "And more than anything, I've been trying to figure out how" to say that.

The past year has made Patrick "more confident in the things I thought and hope were true," he said. "I believe we are only a degree or two separated from each other."