Since the Boston Marathon bombings last year, Jeff Bauman’s road to recovery has been paved with hard work and lots of love and support from his friends and
1. Jeff put in untold hours of rehab
work at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
2. Jeff with Erin and her best friends, Remy
and Michele, who were also injured in the
bombing, in Michele’s room at Spaulding.
3. Jeff meets fellow Costco employees and
amputees Will Fifield and Byron Speer in
4. Jeff and Erin with Jeff’s boss and
close friend Kevin Horst and Jeff’s mom,
5. Jeff on the ice before a Boston
Bruins game with his phycial therapist,
Michelle Kerr, next to him and Carlos
““There were 260 of us injured, and thanks to the bravery of others, we all have a chance to go on: to love and and laugh and inspire, just like before. —Jeff Bauman, from Stronger his injuries in “A time to heal” in our October
2013 issue. Je;, who was 27 at the time, lost
both legs above the knee in the ;rst blast of
the Marathon bombs. Near the beginning of
Stronger, he shares the moments after the
blast when he believed he was going to die
from his injuries until Carlos Arredondo, the
now famous “man in the cowboy hat” (see
photos on this page and on page 31), li;ed
him into a wheelchair, somehow raising his
spirit to ;ght for survival.
Courage and grace
At ;rst I wondered if Stronger, released in
April to coincide with the anniversary of the
tragedy, a;ected me so much because I’m a
trauma survivor. I wondered if other readers
could be as moved without this connection.
But a;er my wife, Stephanie, read the ;rst
chapter, it became clear to me, based on her
reaction, that Je;’s memoir is simply an incredible tale with which many readers will connect.
With huge doses of wry humor and shocking
real-life action, Stronger chronicles his physical, mental and emotional journey toward
recovery following his catastrophic injuries.
;e courage and grace with which Je; has
met this harrowing chapter of his life are just
plain inspirational. Here’s a snapshot of what
that courage looks like in action: Stephanie
and I recently met Je; and his ;ancée, Erin
Hurley, for dinner while they were visiting
Washington state. As we walked to the restaurant from a nearby parking lot, I noticed how
much smoother Je;’s gait had become since I
last saw him.
Before I touch on Je;’s tenacity, can I
marvel for a moment that he is on his feet at
all? ;is is a huge triumph in itself. It requires
immense core strength and determination for
double above-knee amputees to walk. When
we had last seen Je; and Erin, six months earlier, though he had been ;tted with the same
high-tech prosthetic limbs he was now using,
he spent nearly all of his time in his wheelchair. Beyond the physical and emotional
adjustment, there’s a steep technical learning
curve to using prosthetic legs. Six months ago
he just wasn’t ready.
I couldn’t help smiling as we walked along,
because here we were, being so normal. Erin
and Stephanie strolled ahead of us, chatting,
while Je; and I lagged behind, discussing new
songs we were each learning to play on guitar,
Once in the door, however, we discovered
the restaurant was not at street level—as it
appeared from the sidewalk—but down a long,
and somewhat steep, staircase. Immediately I
saw concern on Erin’s face that said, “How in
the world is Je; going to get down there?” She
leaned close and whispered something to him.
Allow me one more digression: A very
endearing part of getting to know Je; is seeing him and Erin interact. If you could see the
scene I’m describing now, you’d know what I
mean. She gently got his attention to get a
read on how he wanted to handle the situation.
;roughout Stronger, this part of her character
shines. She was his constant advocate. “It’s Je;’s
choice” was her mantra.
Whatever Erin said to him at the top of the
stairs, I couldn’t help overhearing Je; quietly
answer, “Well, how about if I just walk down
there.” He gave her a look to make sure she
understood he was con;dent about the stairs,
then grabbed the handrail with both hands
and worked his way down. Problem solved.
I’m not trying to imply that Je; is some
kind of superman. ;e stairs were tough for
him. He tells me the knees of his new legs have
a safety feature that locks if they sense he is
falling. Stairs are tricky because, until these
prosthetic legs are properly adjusted, they tend
to trigger the lock mechanisms. Nonetheless,
he carefully pushed through this challenge.
And this scenario is a microcosm of his life
these days. He faces many tough challenges,
o;en in public, which requires a special brand
of mettle. Stronger indeed.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 29