Ronald and Karen Brassard of Epsom were among the nearly 200 people injured when two bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
They were there with their daughter, Krystara Brassard, a student at Northeastern University, who was also injured in the blasts.
Karen Brassard has been at Boston Medical Hospital since the explosion, while her husband remains hospitalized at Tufts Medical Center. Krystara was treated for shrapnel wounds and has since been released.
Karen Brassard was resting in her hospital bed Wednesday, having just undergone the second surgery on her right leg to repair damage from the blast.
She is due for a third surgery later this week, and hopes she can leave the hospital this weekend.
She knows she is fortunate to be alive, but she also can’t shake a feeling of guilt.
Karen’s friend, standing right beside her at the marathon, had to have both her legs amputated.
"And now they’re so devastated, her body has just been devastated. And I feel guilty and grateful and lucky. And I know it’s illogical to feel guilty because no one could control anything but you just feel so badly.”
Karen Brassard had never been to the Boston Marathon. She remembers Monday starting out as a perfect day. Her family enjoyed the atmosphere, as people from the crowd cheered on strangers.
“You know there were some kids running in the race that had hamburger outfits on and it was just a fun time and we were just enjoying it.”
They made their way to the finish line. They could see from the texts they were receiving that their friend running in the marathon was getting close. They tried to get a good spot, and held up signs.
That’s when the blast hit.
“In a matter of a second there was just this magnificent boom. And you feel just the wind go through you."
She describes the chaos in the moments that followed, as medical technicians and volunteers rushed to the aid of the victims.
“My daughter kind of grabbed her girlfriend and dragged her into a building. And my husband got us to as far as the front of the building, but with every step he took, he was just leaving a puddle of blood.”
Because they are at different hospitals, Karen has only been able to talk with her husband over the phone.
“He had, like I said, a very large piece of his leg was…gone. And so they’re going to start doing skin grafts and he was a little disappointed today because they were going to take him for his first one today and when they got him down there to the operating room they realized there was still too much damage to be able to do it.”
Doctors have sewn up a quarter-size hole in Karen Brassard’s left ankle, where the shrapnel went in.
“The ankle’s very swollen and painful. My right leg, the shrapnel went in, and the muscles are all just inflamed, everything’s inflamed, and swollen, and I have now those, I have the original hole from the shrapnel and I have now the two incisions.”
She also has a hole in her ear drum from the blast that her doctors hope will heal, but can’t be certain. They will both require physical therapy.
Karen knows her husband is in for a longer stay, but she doesn’t plan on going to back to their home in Epsom until they’re both released.
“This is home now, Boston’s going to be home until we’re home."
Krystara is trying to return to her normal life. Karen was having a conversation with her daughter over the phone Wednesday afternoon about whether she should go to the Bruins game later that night.
Karen wanted her daughter to go, in part because she doesn’t want her at home dwelling on what happened.
“But I also want her to go and be in a crowd and not be afraid to go places. I’m happy to see her taking steps to get her normal life back.”
Karen Brassard is trying to look at the positives. Like the fact that her daughter’s body is intact and she still has her future ahead of her. And the outpouring of support the family has received.
“That first day, that night, I got angry, when I realized how badly my friends were hurt. I was so angry. But then you see all of the really great people, and you just think, ‘You know I can’t let that happen. I can’t let them make me an unhappy, angry person. I just don’t want to be that.”
And she says she’ll never be able to walk by anybody in need of help again, because of the support her family received from strangers at the finish line.