BC & The Boston Marathon: One Year Later
The Boston College community has long been a part of the Boston Marathon, whether as participants in the storied race, vocal supporters along the route, or in various other capacities. This year’s marathon on April 21 will once again have a BC component to it – but this year is no ordinary one, with the memory of last year’s bombing attacks. A look at the 2014 Boston Marathon from Boston College perspectives.
Brittany Loring JD/MBA ’13 sustained serious injuries when she was caught in one of the explosions at last year’s Boston Marathon (which fell on her 29th birthday). Since that day, Loring has endured countless physical therapy sessions, started a new job, gotten married and created a fund aimed at helping others. She recently spoke with Chronicle’s Sean Hennessey.
What are your thoughts and recollections as you look back on April 15?
There are a lot of thoughts. I feel like it was just yesterday and at the same time, I can’t believe how far I’ve come since that day. There’s a lot going through my head. As the anniversary approaches, it’s a lot harder to talk about it, to be honest. Last year when I spoke with the media and with people about the event, I think it was a little bit easier to go through everything that had happened just because I think I was still in shock over the whole event. Now that I’ve processed a lot of it, it’s getting harder to look back on.
But I’m really grateful at this point that I’ve come as far as I have. I’m getting close to be able to start running again, which is good. For me, I’ve done pretty much everything besides that which I would have otherwise been doing this year if the bombing hadn’t happened. I’m pretty proud of myself for getting through all of that.
Tell us about the Brittany Fund.
The fund, called the Brittany Fund – that may change – will raise money for other marathon survivors, and survivors of other traumatic events that happen. My hope is to be able to give back the way that so many gave to me, and to help those who are going through the kind of struggles that I went through. I look forward to working on that as a way to pay it forward. Right now it’s a pretty basic website which takes you straight to a donations page, but I’ll be working on it more in the months to come so hopefully it will be more built up soon.
You mentioned a moment ago that it’s more difficult to talk about April 15. When you think about that date these days, what issues pop up that didn’t a year ago?
I think it just makes me overall more sad now. A year ago, I think I was still in shock as I repeated what the events were that day. When I repeated the events of the day, I didn’t really show much emotion, and now internally there’s more of a sadness to it than there was before. I think continually that will change over time – I think it’s the process of grief over what happened. I know it’s different for everyone but it’s something I think about on a daily basis, something I’m continually processing.
I can’t imagine a day that would go by when you won’t think about it.
Yeah, I can’t imagine that either. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to fit it into my “normal life.” I think back when it initially happened, I didn’t want to believe that an event like that – perpetrated by others who had ill intentions – could change me, but the fact of the matter is it did change me. I do think most of those ways it changed me are positive. I look at every day as if it could be my last day on earth. I think I have a feeling of that more than I ever had before.
You think of the quote “Live in the moment,” but I’m not sure that’s something most people feel until you go through an event like that where you really do face death. Things in my life have changed because of that. I’m trying to re-focus on being nicer to people every day – you know, with everyday things – and trying to find the joy in the simpler things in life.
Do you keep in touch with fellow marathon survivors?
Yes I do. I attend a support group with other marathon survivors that’s set up by the Boston Public Health Commission, which has been great through all of this, really supportive of all of the survivors. I felt really lonely back in June, that I really needed something like that so I joined the group, and for me it’s been a big part of my healing. You have people that went through the same thing that I did. Everyone has a completely different reaction to what happened to them, but we all share some similarities.
Is there any message you want to send to the public?
For all the support I received, I just want to reiterate “Thank you”: to the Boston College community, to alumni, and to complete strangers who reached out to me. I want to say thanks for that, but also let everyone know that every little thing people did meant so much to me. Whatever happens in the future, I would suggest reaching out in the same way because it was really fundamental in my recovery.
I understand you won’t be attending this year’s marathon, so what will you be doing?
I will be on an island in the Caribbean celebrating my 30th birthday. I felt a little bit guilty at first not attending the marathon, but this year I need to reclaim my birthday for myself and given that the bombing is something I think about on a daily basis, I’m sure it won’t be far from my thoughts on that day either. I’ll be there in spirit – I have a lot of fellow marathon survivors running the race and the only part I’m sad about is not being able to see them finish. They’re so inspiring and I’ll definitely be carrying them in my heart that day.
Read the next story in our 'BC & the Boston Marathon: One Year Later" series here