Tattoos Help Boston Marathon Survivor Heal Trauma From Tragedy

Xavier in Stories

A victim of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 unveils the tattoos she got after recovering from her wounds from the tragedy.

Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

Tattoos have a way of healing things— and can remind the bearer that beautiful things can form out of something ugly. Time and time again, people choose to tattoo themselves in order to cover up something that reminds them every day of the terrible things they’ve gone through in the past. With tattoos, they can see through the mark and see the beautiful design on their skin in place of the marks that once haunted them.

Boston Marathon bombing survivor Sydney Corcoran is among those people who are rising from the flames of tragedy, reborn into the world with her tattoos. “The tattoos tell a story,” the 20-year-old told Boston Globe. “With my actual scars [from the bombing], I didn’t have a choice of how I wanted my body to look. But by getting tattoos I am marking my body the way I want.”

Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

On that fateful April day in 2013, Sydney and her mother were among the many bystanders on the sidewalk near the marathon finish line who became victims of an unfortunate terrorist attack. Her mother, Celeste lost both her legs from the bombing while Sydney nearly died from a severed femoral artery when a piece of the pressure-cooker bomb the size of a cellphone lodged in her thigh.

Because of the horrific incident, Sydney was in and out of surgery. She had to wait for the go signal from her doctors until she was able to finally get her first tattoo—a lion on her upper back—to make sure she won’t be encountering complications from the blood thinners.

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Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

“The lion represents strength and courage to me. It is really meaningful to me, and I draw strength from that tattoo,” Sydney told Boston Globe. The lion took almost four hours for Tiago Campos to complete.

Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

Sydney shares a lion tattoo, among a few others with her brother, Tyler—a fiercer, roaring lion on his uppermost arm. The lion is actually a loving tribute to her. She explained, “My mom jumped back and asked why is it so mean. I said to her, ‘This is Sydney, she roared back twice after facing death twice; and roared it away.’” Prior to the 2013 bombing incident, Sydney suffered a skull fracture and a brain hemorrhage in 2010 after being struck by a car in 2010. It was Tyler's first tattoo as well.

Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

“On one leg I have the sun, and the moon on the other. They remind me to keep myself grounded and balanced,” Sydney showed Boston Globe a sun tattoo on her right leg which covers two inches of a scar that Sydney got from a surgery for her injured leg.

Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe
Photo by John Tlumacki/Boston Globe

“The tattoos show how far I’ve come,” Sydney told Boston Globe. “If people ask me what they represent, I’m not afraid to share my story. It’s out there for the world to see.” Read the full story here.

Xavier

@Xavier

When she's not writing for Tattoodo, Xavier likes experimenting with art and organizing local music shows. We're kidding, she's probably asleep. Follow her on Instagram @claudia_strife

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