Murphy, the Mass. General social worker, has found relief in her 1-year-old granddaughter, someone to “just hug and love.”
Soon after hearing that two bombs had rocked Boylston Street, Murphy stepped into the Blum Center. Normally a quiet reading room just off the hospital’s main lobby, it was full of staff members taking calls from people looking for loved ones who may have been injured in the attack.
The scene brought her back to the February 2003 day that she spent trying to comfort people desperately searching for loved ones who had been caught in the ferocious fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I. In the weeks that followed, Murphy worked closely with several families, including that of 33-year-old Pam Gruttadauria, who would become the 100th person to die from the fire.
Working with Marathon victims has been different. For one thing, Murphy said, there was fear to contend with.
On the Friday when the entire city was told to stay inside while one bombing suspect remained on the loose, Murphy’s son walked her from her Boston condominium to the hospital, where anxiety weighed heavily on staff and patients.
Murphy never got to know the fire victims, so badly injured that they were unconscious during much of their monthslong stays in the intensive care unit. But she has worked directly with Marathon victims and has watched as they begin the healing process following severe injuries, some of which led to amputations.
Just as in 2003, Murphy said, she sits with the victims and listens to whatever it is they and their families need to say.
When they leave the hospital, she said, their story “doesn’t leave you.”