‘We want to remember Richard and Lina for who they were, not how they died’
It was a tough day at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary as colleagues of Dr. Lina Bolaños returned to work after a weekend grieving her death. Even as those closest to the pediatric anesthesiologist sought to fight through their sadness, they still couldn’t believe she was gone.
When things got difficult in the operating room, Dr. Nita Sahani said, she took out her phone to do something she’s done countless times: ask for help from Bolaños, who would never refuse.
“Then the next thing, I’m like, ‘What am I even thinking?’ ” said Sahani, chief of pediatric anesthesiology. “We are here today going through a difficult time because she’s not here, and I’m still thinking of texting her.”
Bolaños, 38, was murdered Friday night alongside her fiance, Dr. Richard S. Field,
As Sahani and her colleagues spoke Tuesday, family members of Field issued a statement remembering the couple as “vital people” with an infectious joy for life “and love for family absolute.’’
“Their passing is a tragedy beyond measure and our lives will forever be changed,’’ the statement said. “However, we want to remember Richard and Lina for who they were, not how they died.’’
The alleged killer, Bampumim Teixeira, was arraigned Monday in his room at Tufts Medical Center, where he is recovering from wounds suffered when he was shot by Boston police.
Teixeira was ordered held without bail and pleaded not guilty to murder charges. The 30-year-old Chelsea man worked for a company that once provided security service at the condo complex where Field and Bolaños lived. Prosecutors have said he had apparently filled a backpack with jewelry before he was shot.
At Mass. Eye and Ear, those who worked with Bolaños said they had thought little about the details of the killings. She worked on a team that helps children with airway disorders, a difficult and emotional job that requires closeness among colleagues.
Dr. Christopher Hartnick, chief of pediatric ear, nose, and throat medicine at the Boston institution, said team members often spent time together outside of work. In happy times, that meant dinners together and getting to know one another’s families.
Last weekend, it meant gathering to share their shock and mourning.
“It’s a very close-knit group of people who over this weekend also grieved together,” Hartnick said.
Beyond her personal warmth and dedication, colleagues also remembered Bolaños as a skilled physician with a special talent for putting patients and their parents at ease, sometimes hugging the children or giving them a little kiss as they fell asleep.
“We want people to know what a great person she was,” said Nancy Katzuba, a surgical nurse who worked closely with Bolaños. “She was very kind, compassionate, loving, caring, and just a wonderful person to work with.”
Mass. Eye and Ear officials said they are working with the family of Bolaños, who was from Colombia, to come up with a plan to memorialize her. Officials held a gathering to remember her as colleagues returned to work Monday and are organizing a more formal event for next week.
On Sunday, a woman who identified herself on Facebook as Bolaños’s mother posted a remembrance of her.
“My beautiful girl, nothing and nobody will tear you from my heart. I loved you, I love you, and I will love you for eternity,” the post said in Spanish.
The Field family said in the statement that they wanted the focus to be on the full lives the doctors led. Field, an anesthesiologist, worked at North Shore Pain Management, a business he helped create.
“They thrived on traveling, experiencing cultures and making friends in every port,’’ the statement reads. “Their loss will be felt by family and loved ones across the world.”
The two doctors “dedicated their professional lives to alleviating suffering and ensuring the safety of those most vulnerable — children undergoing surgery.”
But their lives were not solely focused on professional achievements. “As family members, they adored their nieces and nephews as if their own children and always found the time to take interest in each and every one of us, no matter what was on their plate,” the statement said.
The focus, the family said, should be on their accomplishments. The family suggested making a “tribute donation” to Doctors Without Borders in memory of Field and Bolaños
“Their impact in the world — in the lives of those who they loved, those who loved them, and the patients that they cared for — is the real newsworthy story,’’ the statement said. “We will remember and celebrate their passion, gentility, and extraordinary kindness forever.”