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Bittersweet update from family devastated by marathon bombing

The little sister of the 8-year-old boy killed at the Boston Marathon has had surgery 11 times, and doctors only this week closed the wound created when one of the bombs blew off part of her left leg, her family said Thursday.

The girl, Jane Richard, could not communicate for the first two weeks after the attack, and she woke up “with difficult questions that needed to be answered,” the family said in a note posted on its Tumblr page.

Courtesy the Richard family

Bill and Denise Richard with their children, Henry, Jane and Martin. Martin was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing, Jane lost part of a leg, and Denise suffered a serious eye injury. Bill took shrapnel from the bomb in the legs and has some hearing loss.

Jane’s big brother was Martin Richard. He is the boy pictured, gap-toothed and smiling, in old photos wearing a Boston Bruins jersey and, in an image that shot around the Internet after his death, holding a poster that said, “No More Hurting People.”

“There are not words to describe how hard sharing this heartbreaking news was on all of us,” the note said.

The note — plainspoken, 800 words long and remarkable for its optimism — expresses thanks to first responders and the people of Boston. In aching succession, it lays out how each member of the family was touched by the attack.

The mother, Denise Richard, a school librarian, was blinded in one eye by the explosion, although the family said that doctors are pleased with how she is healing from surgeries.

The father, Bill Richard, who works for an environmental company, suffered shrapnel wounds and burns to his legs and loss of hearing. The family said that it was hopeful the hearing would improve over time.

Their third child, Henry, 11, has returned to fifth grade, “which gives him a needed sense of routine and normalcy,” the family said. A family spokesman, Larry Marchese, said that Henry, “through what could be a miracle,” suffered not a scratch.

One of the marathon bombs went off feet from where the whole family was standing, the family has said. Three people were killed and more than 260 injured in the two explosions April 15.

The 11th surgery for Jane Richard was performed Wednesday at Boston Children’s Hospital, and it was partly to prepare her leg for an eventual prosthesis, the family said. The little girl has warded off infections and other complications.

The note spoke of the need for additional surgeries for Jane and a “long and difficult road ahead for her.”

“Our focus as a family remains on healing from our injuries, both physical and emotional,” the family said.

The hospital did not immediately return a call for comment.

In an outpouring of gratitude, the family spoke of people at the marathon finish line who saved Jane’s life by getting to her quickly and tending to her injuries, and of police who “stood guard over Martin’s body so he was not alone.”

“Those officers will never know how comforting that was in our very darkest hour,” the family said.

Jane takes singing lessons with Boston City Singers, and when the lessons started again, the week after the attack, one little boy had a question about his missing classmate. The conductor told him, “That was just an accident. Janie got hurt. She is going to be OK.”

Family photo via AP

Martin Richard

Martin Richard was a sports fan, and in citing tributes and vigils for the marathon victims around the world, the family made specific mention of remembrances offered by Boston teams and their rivals alike.

The weekend after the attack, the Boston Red Sox draped an enormous American flag over the famed wall known as the Green Monster at Fenway Park, and the crowd at a Bruins game roared through the last bars of the national anthem.

The note said: “Martin was ‘Boston Strong,’ and now we must all be for him and for all of the victims of this senseless attack as well as their loved ones who are going through a hell we wish we never had to know.”

It closed by addressing people who want to help.

“We know how difficult it is to stand idle when something terrible happens, so we thank you for respecting our privacy and giving us space to not only recuperate and rest, but also to ensure the one thing the attack does not break is our bond as a family,” it said.

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