Four months ago Jane Richard lost her eight-year-old brother Martin and her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombing.
On April 15 and she stood excitedly watching the race with her family near the finish line when two bombs exploded.
Last week her parents released this photograph of the seven-year-old smiling as she learned to walk again with a prosthetic leg.
The Richard family are bravely resuming their "normal" life, and have finally returned home after months spent in hospitals. Jane is excited to finally be sleeping in her own bed again after 39 days at Boston Children’s Hospital and more time at the rehabilitation facility.
As family spokesman Larry Marchese revealed, the family have been eating out and trying to resume their routines, even taking Jane to see a Taylor Swift concert.
“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.”
Learning to get around on her prosthetic limb hasn't been easy, but Jane 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,” the Richards said. “Her strength, balance, and comfort with the leg improve every day. Watching her dance with her new leg, which has her weight primarily on the other leg, is absolutely priceless.’’
Jane's mother Denise lost her sight in one eye after being struck by a ball bearing from the bomb. Her dad Bill recently had an operation to repair a ruptured eardrum and is coping with tinnitus, or ringing in his ears. He has hearing loss and discomfort from burns on his legs.
“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.
“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.”
It's hoped that Jane and her older brother Henry, who was not hurt in the blast, will return to school next month. Bill also plans to return to his job as vice president of operations at an environmental consulting firm, while Denise hopes to resume her position as a school librarian.
“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.”
The family have also been buoyed by the thousands of people who have donated to their fund, raising more than $1 million.
“The outpouring of support from friends, family and total strangers has been incredible, and it is uplifting to our family in this most painful and difficult time,” the family wrote on their blog. “Well-wishes reach us, and they help more than anyone can know.”
As for Jane's brother, a little boy who dreamed of being a hockey goalie and wished for an end to "hurting people": "[He] lives in my heart," she touchingly told Fr. Sean Connor, who led a Mass in Martin's honor in June.
What an amazing little girl.