Paulette Moffitt looked almost happy in the October sun that fell through the leaves in Edgeware Park.
She moved amongst the crowd that had gathered beside a stand of woods in suburban Barrhaven like any good hostess.
There were hugs and whispered endearments for the people who had
gathered there. A lovely cake was laid out on a makeshift table. It
might have been a church bazaar or even a birthday party, but it was
The true nature of the event came down to a blue bag, a rock, and a tall man in dark glasses who came and went like a ghost.
The blue bag contained the symbols of a man who died young and out of
season — a Christmas tree ornament and badge bearing Andy Moffitt’s
likeness, and a small statue of a boy clutching a heart of gold. The
boy, of course, was Andy.
The rock was not the standard $2,000 ceremonial stone imported for
such occasions from other places. It was pure Barrhaven, taken from
construction on the Transitway as a graceful councillor Jan Harder
Soon it would bear the plaque that still lay under a tasseled cloth
awaiting its unveiling. From that moment forward, Berrigan Woods would
forever be known as the Andy Moffitt Trail — a kind of immortality for
someone who did not make his 23rd Christmas.
As for the tall man in shades, he was Dale Hayes. Twelve years ago,
fate gave him the Andy Moffitt murder case for Christmas. The former
homicide detective embraced Paulette and then melted away, pulled back
to a world where new crimes made their dread demands and there was as
yet no cake.
No, it was not a bazaar or a birthday party, but a collection of
people making a stand against absurdity and violence in the late October
sun. Bob Runciman and Gord Brown stood amongst the crowd, no longer
public figures, just human beings deep in the helpless yet healing
process of love and remembrance.
Justice as we know it had no place at this gathering. In a way, the
day was a requiem for the justice that never was — three years in prison
for the murderer, a life-sentence for the Moffitts, and no life at all
You could see that bittersweet realization in the faces old and young
squinting against the morning sun. Yes, the memorial was wonderful, yes
he was a hero, yet … where was Andy, why, why, why?
At the end of it, it was easier to understand the singular and
solitary mission of the Moffitts. People disappear in the system but
they must never disappear from our history or our hearts. Paulette
Moffitt has always known that to forget is to obliterate and to
obliterate is the final indignity that can be offered to a life taken.
Lioness of a mother’s love that she is, that never happened to Andy.
I know too much about murder to talk with any expectation of closure.
I shook Rod’s hand and kissed Paulette goodbye. She looked back at me,
her lashes barely caging tears of joy and sorrow.
“Since the night Andy died, I wake up every two hours. I can’t sleep anymore. We’ll see if I sleep now.”
The woods are lovely, dark and deep ....