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Healing after the Boston Marathon Bombings

Guest author Jen Bauer posted this on her blog leanly Adventurous Moms on Tuesday. It was from Jen I first learned about the fund for her Lowell High School student Sydney Corcoran (last Wednesday’s post on it here). Below is a post she said “was not an easy one to write.” But I’m glad she did. The stories in it are a salve. ~ Polly


I had a visceral reaction when I first found out about the bombings at the 117th Boston Marathon. The same fear, confusion, and grief I felt during 9/11 flooded my body. Like most Bostonians, I spent last Monday praying – praying for those who’d been killed or injured in the twin explosions at the finish line of the Marathon; praying that there were no more attacks forthcoming; praying that the perpetrators would be identified and caught.

As I racked my brain, trying to remember everyone I knew who was in Boston that afternoon, I immediately thought of my two cousins running the race, my family members cheering them on, and my good friends who are long-time marathon volunteers. A series of texts and Facebook posts set my mind at ease as reports of their safety rolled in, but my heart was still aching for Boston. When I got home that afternoon, I flipped on the television and scanned the Internet for more information about the explosions. Kendra and Addie were in South Carolina visiting her parents, so I spent the evening alone, crying as I watched the news coverage of terrorism in my beloved Boston.

As I was getting ready to go to sleep, a friend sent me a message that she’d heard a student from the school where Kendra and I teach was hurt in the blast. She wasn’t sure, but she thought her name was Sydney Corcoran, and wanted to know – did I know her? I started crying again – yes, I know Sydney. I taught her older brother, Tyler. She’s in my Outdoor Adventures Club. She was in my room last week to pick up fundraiser materials. She’s one of my kids.

I frantically started searching through the pictures of the bombing online. It wasn’t long before I found Sydney lying flat on her back, being helped by two strangers as they tried to stop the bleeding in her leg. The next day the very same picture was on the front page of the Boston Globe and New York Times. [Sydney after the blast, being helped by two strangers.]

Slowly information started to pour in though the other members of the club. Sydney was hurt badly, her femoral artery shredded by shrapnel. Her mother, Celeste, had lost both legs below the knee. I spent Tuesday oscillating between numbing paralysis as I watched the news reports, and an intense need to somehow help the victims of the attack. I wasn’t the only one – as our nation watched us – wounded – they also began to see the bravery, resilience, and strength of Bostonians.

Chris (left) and fellow Emmerson classmate Nick. [SOURCE: ADVENTUROUS  MOMS]

Chris (left) and fellow Emmerson classmate Nick. [SOURCE: ADVENTUROUS MOMS]

There were the heroes at the finish line who selflessly rushed toward the victims, risking their own safety to comfort and tend to the injured. People like Matt Smith, the stranger who helped Sydney, keeping her calm and stemming the blood flowing from her leg. He most certainly saved her life.

There were the helpers who began finding the funds and resources the victims will need as they begin their paths to recovery. People like my former student Chris Dobens, who immediately sprung into action with a fellow Emerson college student, creating the Boston Strong fundraising campaign. In the week since the attack, these two boys have raised over $500,000 for the victims through the sale of t-shirts.

Then, as the week progressed, Boston was tested again. We woke up on Friday morning to a massive manhunt. Friends texted us after hearing gunshots outside their Watertown apartment. Once again, live news reports replaced regular television programming. The events of the day seemed surreal as we watched the drama unfold on the news. As the city cheered the climactic ending of the manhunt, with Suspect #2 in police custody, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmingly sad. The drama had ended, but for so many people, like Sydney and Celeste, the story is not over.



It is so hard to comprehend such acts of violence. Even harder is trying to help my students navigate their feelings and emotions as they respond to a terrorist attack that almost took the life of their classmate. They can’t understand how someone their own age – a teenager – could commit such a heinous act of violence. All I can do is reassure them that there are many more good people in the world than bad, and encourage them to do what they can to make the world a better place.

Today, my Outdoor Adventures Club students came together and raised over $500 for the Celeste & Sydney Recovery Fund by selling bracelets and pins. They made me proud – this mix of native-born, refugee, and immigrant inner-city kids who represent diverse backgrounds, religions, races, and ethnicities, yet came together to support one of their own. They give me hope.

This morning, the photograph to the left was attached to an email from a colleague. Sydney walked today – the first time since she entered the hospital last week. I can’t think of a better picture to represent her strength and resilience, and that of her family, and the people of Boston.

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