JP and Paul Norden: Twice as Strong
Bond of Brothers
Brothers JP and Paul Norden were cheering on a friend at last year’s Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. Standing directly beside the blast, the brothers—and Paul’s girlfriend Jacqui—were severely injured. Both JP and Paul ended up losing part of their right legs.
A year later, the Nordens are sharing their story in a book called Twice As Strong: 12 Seconds, Two Brothers, and the Marathon that Changed Their Lives. “The book is our journey from the start of April 15, 2013 to months later in our recovery,” Paul explains. “You will hear from not only my brother and I, but our first responders, doctors and nurses, and family and friends. It gives intimate details about that Monday night, my week in a coma, my brother and my emotional reunion after two weeks apart and how I proposed to my girlfriend, Jacqui Webb.”
The Stoneham, Massachusetts natives have been brought closer than ever during their rehabilitation process. “Of course it helps going through it knowing my brother understands this lifestyle and what I’m dealing with,” Paul says. “Sometimes we give each other advice on the little things that the physical therapists don’t teach you—or if one of us finds an easier way to do something we share that.”
For Paul, acclimating to wearing a prosthetic has been difficult, but he’s getting used to it. “Adjusting to life as an amputee, I do mostly everything I did before, but some things are more challenging and very few are off limits,” he says. “The first time I did the stairs using my prosthetic correctly was a milestone. Also, showering with my waterproof leg, standing in the shower after eight months of sitting brought tears to my eyes.”
The brothers, both construction workers before the blast, have also had to get used to being recognized more frequently. “It’s touching knowing that I may inspire someone else’s life,” Paul says. “A big moment for me was when a little girl—who had a hard life—asked for a picture with me in a local restaurant saying I inspired her to be strong. That’s something I will never forget.”