In the Aftermath of Tragedy: A Sophomore Reflects on the Boston Marathon Bombings

Photo courtesy of Julia Edwards '15 | Julia Edwards ’15 ran the Boston marathon in honor of her late brother.

Photo courtesy of Julia Edwards ’15 | Julia Edwards ’15 ran the Boston marathon in honor of her late brother.

 

Evelyn Crunden ’13
Features Editor-at-Large

On Monday, April 15, Julia Edwards ’15 began her run for the annual Boston Marathon, often attended by travelers far and wide. Running in honor of her late brother, Edwards had spent the time leading up to the marathon fundraising and training, and had worked extensively to be prepared and in shape. As she approached the final turn onto Boylston Street, she was stopped by a man with his arms stretched out, ordering runners to turn back – bombs had gone off.

“I was dying, I was so tired,” said Edwards, recollecting the day. “A fellow runner had encouraged me to keep on going. A little past the mile-to-go marker, I heard two booms and thought … it might be a bomb, or cannons? Everyone seemed confused around me.” She turned back after being told what had happened, and faced a series of confusing choices as the day descended into chaos. Worried about her family, who had come to see her run, as well as the potential presence of even more bombs, she was lucky enough to encounter a stranger who helped out. “She gave me a hug and took me into a store, a Puma store, and bought me a sweatshirt to keep me warm. She stayed with me and got me to a safe point, where my dad found me.”

In the hours following the tragedy, as information slowly came to light, victims were transported to the hospital, and Boston steeled itself for the worst, Edwards began to make sense of the day’s events.

“[It was] unlike anything I’ve ever been around,” she said. “It was stressful. I’m from Boston, I’ve spent so much time there. People from my city were the target of this attack. This has been hard for me, for everyone. Periodically, it hits me and makes me incredibly sad.”

As the week went on, things became even more difficult. On Friday, the Boston Police Department engaged in a day-long manhunt for the instigators of the bombings. The search culminated in a tense showdown in Watertown, Mass., in a moment that also hit close to home for Edwards, whose father is from Watertown. The nearness and the painful proximity of the week’s events have been especially draining, and the sophomore now finds herself looking to move on, while also remembering the important things.

“I don’t want to sound morbid,” she offered tentatively. “But, when people die, you see their Facebooks and you see everyone leaving these loving comments about how important they were, how much they mattered. Leading up to this race, people cared a lot, and in the hours following it, everyone came out of the woodwork. I know how much people care. You wish other people could see things like that. It was so good to see that.”

In looking back at the race, Edwards’ thoughts vary.

“I was very pleased with my pace, but I didn’t get to finish. I was running a little bit slower than usual. It’s been crazy to realize just how close I was, that I could’ve been running just a little bit faster and it might’ve been different.” Still, she remains proud of her time, and proud of her efforts overall. When asked if she was contemplating running again next year, she remained uncertain but still upbeat. “I might, I don’t know,” she admitted. “We’ll see.”

Her ultimate thoughts on the marathon, however, are ones of solidarity and silver linings.

“You realize, you’ve got to move and keep going. I think we’ll all discover our own ways in the coming weeks. I said this when I went to the vigil [held for students] but, we need to focus on the acts of kindness. There were over a hundred people hurt, but there have been thousands of people reaching out. [It was a hard week] for the world, but people [in Syria and Afghanistan and elsewhere] have all reached out. People can do wonderful things.”

Edwards also emphasized the importance of being proactivite, as well as the steps outsiders can take to help. “Donate blood,” she stressed. “Look at the One Fund. Reach out.”

Though the day’s tragic events have resonated with many, Edwards still remains positive. “The spirit of the marathon is pushing yourself as far as you can go and I’m proud [of what I did that day] … Boston’s a strong city. We’re going to be okay,” she said.

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