“I SHOULD TELL YOU that I have a bullet on me,” Dic says, pausing to wait for airport security’s reaction, grinning slyly. A true Dad-joke at its finest.
Five years after being shot while pursuing the Boston Marathon bombers in Watertown, Dic still feels pain from that bullet, but it also provides him with a new set of jokes. Outside of the jokes, though, we rarely think about the bullet Dic took that week. Wherever it was deployed from, Dic signed his life away a long time ago when he took an oath to serve and protect his community as a police officer. He would be the first to tell you he was not a victim that night in Watertown — he was a willing and playing participant.
“Five and three-quarters,” our son Richie says, when asked about his age. The three-quarters is the most important part. Strangers used to walk up to me and ask how I cared for a husband in a coma along with a new baby. A blessing in disguise, I would respond. Richie was a blissfully unaware 5-month-old, smiling and cooing, happy just to be in mommy’s arms.
“Five days,” I say, when asked how long it took us to tell Dic about his own accident and about the death of our friend, MIT Officer Sean Collier. We didn’t know if he could physically handle the information. We played “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” reruns nonstop on his overhead TV. He would awaken briefly, squint his eyes, spot Will Smith, groan, and go back to sleep. The real questions started when he became more lucid. “If I was shot, it would be in the news — show me the news.” But we couldn’t find a story that didn’t also involve Sean. So we waited, asking officers arriving at the hospital to remove their black mourning bands before visiting Dic. Five days after the shooting, the day of Sean’s funeral, Dic’s brother Ed told him everything. Dic lay in that hospital bed, inundated with tubes, watching Sean’s funeral on TV. How could we let this happen, how could he not be there, he would scream.
Little did anyone know then, but Dic was one of the first to arrive on scene after Sean was shot. And only now can briefly recall the flash of Sean’s ambulance pulling away from the MIT curb.
“Five” we say, when asked how many people we lost. Dennis Simmonds is not a question for us. A Boston Police officer who was injured in the Watertown shootout, he collapsed and died while at the gym a year later. Healthy 28-year-olds don’t just drop dead. And certainly not without an extensive autopsy. The Simmonds family battled through medical and police records, to confirm Dennis’s aneurism consistently aligned with the Watertown shootout. Nick Favorito, executive director of the Massachusetts State Retirement Board, would finally state to The Boston Globe, “The board wanted to acknowledge the officer’s efforts on that night of April 19, 2013.”
FIVE. Sean Collier. Dennis Simmonds. Martin Richard. Krystle Campbell. Lingzi Lu. For the five-year anniversary, let us say those names loudly. We are stronger for them and because of them.Kim Donohue, wife of retired MBTA Police Sergeant Richard Donohue, is a marketing adviser at Deloitte Consulting and national spokesperson for the American Red Cross.