All day long, I have seen photos of little Martin Richard stream by me. The 8-year-old killed by a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon has quickly become a symbol for a national tragedy. To moms and dads across the country, he is one of our own children. But now Martin's dad, Bill Richard, has released a statement about the loss of his son, and the message couldn't be any clearer.
In the classiest way possible, Bill Richard is asking the caring public to please, please, please back off his child.
Of course, he didn't use those words, exactly. But it's clear that this father is grieving today, he's overwhelmed, and he'd really like some space:
My dear son Martin has died from injuries sustained in the attack on Boston. My wife and daughter are both recovering from serious injuries. We thank our family and friends, those we know and those we have never met, for their thoughts and prayers. I ask that you continue to pray for my family as we remember Martin.
That poor, poor man. He lost his son. His 6-year-old daughter lost her leg. And his wife just had brain surgery. That's more, in the course of 24 hours, than most Americans will have to bear in a lifetime.
Oh, and on top of that, he has a third child who was not physically harmed in the blast but was apparently there when his brother was killed, his mom and sister hurt. He is more than likely traumatized, and he needs his parents just as much as his sister, although in different ways.
This is the burden on the shoulders of Bill Richard right now. This is why we need to give him a break.
It's natural for us to be drawn to Martin Richard's story, to the sweet smile with the gaps where his adult teeth are missing, to the little boy with a sign that begs people not to hurt one another.
He represents everything good and pure about America, the antithesis of the perpetrator (or perpetrators) of yesterday's cowardly bombing.
He represents our own kids as we think about what life would have been like should we have been standing there with our children, as we have on the sidelines of parades and baseball games and who knows how many other public events.
But he isn't our kid.
He's Bill and Denise Richard's kid.
And the best thing we can do for Bill and Denise Richard today is to lay back and let them get their family in order.
We can -- and should -- keep on caring. We should keep on praying and sending our love. But we should also put ourselves in Denise and Bill Richard's shoes and recognize that a parent's duty is to their kids. They have to be there for their youngest son, they have to help their daughter rebuild after a devastating amputation, and they have to honor Martin.
They've got enough on their plate, without the world crowding in, don't you think?
What do you think of Bill's statement?
Image via hyku/Flickr