Caitlin McBride: Not just a family, but a whole neighbourhood is torn up with grief
THE American flag stands at half-mast on Carruth Street in Martin Richard's Dorchester neighbourhood. The already patriotic neighbourhood has been uniformly devastated by the Richard family's pain.
Many of their neighbours were visibly upset when I asked them about their relationship with the family.
"Those children were always so happy, they were always outside playing," said one neighbour, who asked that we not share her name. "The family always seemed so happy, it's devastating what's happened to them. Truly sad."
The family home is cordoned off, with two police cars supervising the house in order to protect the family's privacy.
Dozens of flowers, cards and toys had been left at the family's front yard, but these were swiftly cleaned up by family members, who said that they wanted to keep the home as "normal as possible" for Henry, who was left physically unaffected by the bombing that killed his younger brother.
Instead, well-wishes are being directed to the nearby Galvey Park, where Martin often played, to Peabody Square around the corner and to their local church.
One child wrote a special letter left at the church, wishing Jane, who lost her leg, a full recovery and clearly displaying her innocence.
It said: "How to get better: treat it with the right care; stay in bed; don't move your leg; have lots of sleep; when your leg heals up, try to learn how to walk."
But most touching of all was her last message of support: "And keep in your mind, I am praying and hoping and dreaming you feel better."
As you walk the streets of Dorchester, there is an unmissable police presence. SWAT teams and vehicles belonging to the National Guard can be seen cruising the roads.
"Martin was such a special, peaceful little boy," said the owner of a local business, who did not want to be named.
Visibly choking back tears, she said: "The family have been coming to this particular establishment for the last five years and they came to our previous business before that.
"They are wonderful, kind people and we are all trying to respect their privacy as they're going through this tragedy."
Another neighbour, Dennis Dellascio, said: "My wife and I have lived here for 35 years; it's an unspeakable tragedy."