Family of Martin Richard, killed in Boston Marathon attacks, continues recovery; sister now using prosthetic leg
Four months after the second bomb at the Boston Marathon killed their youngest son and severed their daughter’s left leg, the Richard family is doing its best to overcome the devastation of that day and resume a normal life.
In their first public statement since May, Bill and Denise Richard said Thursday that they have returned to their Dorchester home after months spent at local hospitals and are coping as well as they can with the loss of their 8-year-old son, Martin.
“While we have made progress with our physical injuries, the emotional pain seems every bit as new as it was four months ago,” they said. “An hour doesn’t go by that we don’t feel the agony of Martin’s death and the senseless way it came about.”
They added: “The pain is constant, and even the sweetest moments can become heartbreaking when we are struck by the realization that ‘Martin would have loved this.’ ”
It is their 7-year-old daughter, Jane, who lost her leg to the blast. The family announced that Jane left Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital last month. She has been fitted with a prosthetic leg and is excited to finally be sleeping again in her bed at home. She spent 39 days at Boston Children’s Hospital and more time at the rehabilitation facility.
“Jane continues to be an incredible source of inspiration — and exhaustion,’’ the Richards said. “The loss of her leg has not slowed her one bit, or deterred her in any way. As we knew she would, when we finally returned home, Jane walked into the house with the aid of her crutches, but under her own power.”
She is still learning to get around on her prosthetic limb, to which she is adjusting slowly.
“When she is able to have it on, she struts around on it with great pride and a total sense of accomplishment,” they said. “Her strength, balance, and comfort with the leg improve every day.”
They added: “Watching her dance with her new leg, which has her weight primarily on the other leg, is absolutely priceless.’’
The oldest sibling, 11-year-old Henry, was with the family on Boylston Street that April day but was not physically injured in the bombing. Since then, Henry has attended “cool overnight camps,’’ spent time with close friends, and looked out for his sister and parents.
“Henry has continued to be strong, attentive, and protective of all of us,” they wrote.
Denise Richard is still coping with the loss of vision in one eye after being struck by a ball bearing from the bomb. Bill Richard recently had an operation to repair a ruptured eardrum and is coping with tinnitus, or ringing in his ears. He remains without a substantial amount of his hearing and has discomfort from burns on his legs. Neither Denise nor Bill has returned to work.
“We are still dealing with our injuries and their impact on our lives. But we are also making progress, and, just like Jane, we each endure the occasional setback here and there along the way,’’ the Richards said.
Until last month, no one in the family had spent the night at home since the bombings. Denise Richard slept beside Jane at the hospital while her husband spent the nights with Henry at a nearby hotel. “We were determined that none of us would sleep at home until all of us could do so,” they said. “As so many things have been, returning home without Martin certainly made that important milestone bittersweet, but we know he was with us, as he is every moment of every day.”
This fall, after the children return to school, the family is hoping to map out a way to “honor Martin’s memory in a meaningful and impactful way.’’ Bill Richard plans to return to his job as vice president of operations at an environmental consulting firm, Denise Richard hopes to resume her position as a librarian at a charter school in Dorchester.
Larry Marchese, a spokesman for the family, said the Richards have been eating out and trying to resume their routines, even taking Jane to see a Taylor Swift concert. But that comes between three visits a week to Spaulding for adjustments to Jane’s prosthetic limb and other appointments for Bill Richard’s hearing loss and his wife’s blindness in one eye.
When they are not seeing doctors or physical therapists, the Richards are going through the many gifts they have received over the past several months from around the world, including an American flag that two ultramarathoners brought them from the Pentagon after running to Boston from Washington, D.C.; about a dozen medals from those who finished the Marathon; and everything from financial contributions to handmade quilts.
“Throughout all that has happened, we have worked hard to maintain our bond as a family,’’ the Richards said. “With the love and support of family and friends, including those who were total strangers just four months ago, we feel like we are succeeding.”David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.