M/cloudy
56°
M/cloudy
Hi 71° | Lo 35°

‘How brave he was’: Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman speaks at Concord Public Library

  • The crowd of about 140 people in the Concord Public Library auditorium rose to their feet as Jeff Bauman entered to speak as a part of a promotional event for his new book "Stronger" on Thursday evening, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    The crowd of about 140 people in the Concord Public Library auditorium rose to their feet as Jeff Bauman entered to speak as a part of a promotional event for his new book "Stronger" on Thursday evening, May 1, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jeff Bauman speaks about his life since the Boston Bombings at an event promoting his new book "Stronger" at the Concord Public Library on Thursday, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Jeff Bauman speaks about his life since the Boston Bombings at an event promoting his new book "Stronger" at the Concord Public Library on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Csilla and Jeff Bauman clap for their son Jeff after he finished speaking at the Concord Public Library about his life since the Boston Bombings as a promotional event for his book "Stronger" on Thursday evening, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Csilla and Jeff Bauman clap for their son Jeff after he finished speaking at the Concord Public Library about his life since the Boston Bombings as a promotional event for his book "Stronger" on Thursday evening, May 1, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • Jeff Bauman meets with residents while signing copies of his new book "Stronger" at the Concord Public Library on Thursday, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Jeff Bauman meets with residents while signing copies of his new book "Stronger" at the Concord Public Library on Thursday, May 1, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • The crowd of about 140 people in the Concord Public Library auditorium rose to their feet as Jeff Bauman entered to speak as a part of a promotional event for his new book "Stronger" on Thursday evening, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Jeff Bauman speaks about his life since the Boston Bombings at an event promoting his new book "Stronger" at the Concord Public Library on Thursday, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Csilla and Jeff Bauman clap for their son Jeff after he finished speaking at the Concord Public Library about his life since the Boston Bombings as a promotional event for his book "Stronger" on Thursday evening, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Jeff Bauman meets with residents while signing copies of his new book "Stronger" at the Concord Public Library on Thursday, May 1, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

From where Jeff Bauman stood behind the lectern in the Concord Public Library auditorium last night, he looked like a regular guy.

Brown hair. Blue hoodie. Quick laugh.

Hidden behind that lectern was the reason he was in front of 140 people in the basement auditorium: two prosthetics on which he now stands, because he lost both of his legs in the Boston Marathon bombings last April.

But he stood, nonetheless.

“I have a life to live, and I have to live it to the fullest now,” Bauman said. “Because, you know, there was a time when I was laying on the sidewalk, on the steaming hot brick, I thought I was dead. I was reaching for my cell phone to call my dad and my mom to tell them I wasn’t going to make it home.”

Bauman answered questions about his memories of the explosions on Boylston Street and about his role in helping identify one of the alleged bombers in the days after the attacks. He showed the crowd how his prosthetics work and joked about the struggles of rehab. He talked about co-writing his best-selling novel Stronger, which came out last month. One woman raised her hand from where she stood at the side of the room.

“Are you finding that these talking tours that you’re doing now, and writing the book, is that

a healing process for you?” she asked.

“Yeah, sometimes,” Bauman replied.

“Or does it bring back the whole thing all over again?” she asked.

He paused, looking at the room full of people, the fluorescent lights.

“No, it doesn’t really bother me, because I’ve done it so many times,” he said. “The only time it really bothers me is at night, when I’m actually laying in bed and it kind of eats away at me if I saw something that day. . . . (Talking) dulls things down a little bit. It takes the edge off the whole situation.”

Bauman has spoken across the country about the marathon bombings, but last night was the first time his father and stepmother, who live in Concord, have attended. Jeff and Csilla Bauman sat in the front row.

“He’s really gracious about everything,” the elder Jeff Bauman said later. “A lot of people really helped him, and I think he’s really feeling like it’s time to give back.”

From the middle of the empty chairs, he stared at the lectern where his son had addressed the crowd.

“When he started opening up, it hurts inside,” he said.

“It probably hurts him inside, too.”

The 28-year-old grew up in Chelmsford, Mass., but he often visited his father, stepmother and half-siblings in Concord.

“He’s hometown,” Csilla Bauman said. “He’s hometown New England.”

He’s hometown, but he’s also part of history.

“It’s history, it’s a crazy thing that happened. . . . Look how many people are here now, just because you’re affected by it,” Bauman told the audience. “You are in some way connected to that area, you’ve been down there, you’ve seen the marathon, you probably know somebody that’s been injured. It hurt so many people, and I don’t like to see this stuff happen.

“Obviously it’ll be in the history books, just like the past world wars and stuff, but I . . . try to keep my mind off of it.”

He didn’t shy away from the audience, though. Bauman read the questions off little slips of paper, submitted by members of the crowd. Is he taller than he used to be?

“Shorter,” he said, with a laugh. He was 5 feet 11 inches tall. With his prosthetics, he’s about 5 feet 7 inches.

How will he tell his future children about that day? Erin Hurley, his fiancee, will give birth to the couple’s first child this summer.

“That’s what I was worried about,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I guess I’ll have to . . . be honest. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything.”

His eyes found Hurley, several months pregnant, in the front row with his family.

“I was very worried about what my kid is going to think of me. Obviously he’s going to see other parents with legs. Erin always says that’ll be normal for him.”

Would he go back to the finish line, to the exact place where he lost his legs? Bauman stood near the spot when he was at the marathon last month, but he watched this year’s race from the opposite side of the street.

“One day, I’ll go alone and see it,” he said.

At the end of his talk, Bauman stepped out from behind the lectern, and his prosthetics were fully visible again. A cameraman followed closely, panning his body. Bauman stopped to show an older man how the knee worked. The shutter of a camera clicked repeatedly. He walked down the center aisle to a standing ovation.

As he signed copies of Stronger in the lobby, Csilla Bauman stood among the empty seats where strangers had just listened to him with reverence, and she wondered with equal awe at his ability to open up to the crowd.

It was gut-wrenching, she said, to hear her stepson share his experience. When he talked about his memories of reaching for his phone to call his family, or when he described feeling more pressure than pain in his mangled legs, she said she remembered her amazement at how calm he and the other victims were despite their injuries.

“How brave they all were,” she said of the victims, watching the line of visitors to meet her stepson grow shorter.

“How brave he was.”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

If I got my legs blown off and was almost killed...after I recovered...the first thing I would do is demand a congressional hearing into why our immigration policy allowed a family of extremists to seek asylum here...provide welfare, even as they travel back to their former country, and despite warnings about them from other countries....I would demand those elected officials be put in prison....for a good long time. Thats just me.

This is the guy to ask what he thinks of current US immigration policy, Muslim extremists, welfare, and execution...only no one did.

As provided in the above report, the questions for Jeff had to be submitted in writing. It felt like overkill at the time, but a CPL staffer later told me this screening process came from Jeff's people. I don't know if someone(s) had been disrespectful at a previous event, or if there were simply questions he didn't want to address (understandable, if so). Just my opinion, but the topics you have cited, however viable, wouldn't have fit in very well on this night. That's not to say none of them concern Jeff, or any of us, for that matter. It just wasn't the forum for that kind of "rally". There was a lot of positive energy in the room. It took the form of love and support coming from the crowd, and Jeff returning the same back to them in equal portions.

"Stella Tremblay, New Hampshire Legislator, Says Jeff Bauman 'Was Not In Pain' After Bombing " Suppose this ex-legislator is still saying this?

@mbeck, Stella Tremblay is likely in the clear on this matter. Jeff was asked that very question by an audience member last night; was he immediately in pain, or did his body go into shock? He stated that he felt no pain at that time, just pressure on his left leg, which was the only one he could really feel, and why he was hanging onto it (as seen in the now infamous picture). Reporter Megan Doyle also ends this article with mention of the pressure Jeff felt, as opposed to pain.

She also said he didn't lose his legs and the whole Boston bombing was a fake.

Jeff came across as very warm, totally engaging and entirely down-to-earth. Any parent would be proud to call him 'son'. Likewise, I'm sure he'll make a wonderful father. The CPL pulled off this event of the season with aplomb. If you missed Jeff's talk live, CCTV (channel 6) will be broadcasting it, soon (may be on youtube today, in fact). Kudos to Andrea for some evening-defining photos.

Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.