Choose from one of the following Victim Impact Statements that were read at
the sentencing hearing of Andy's killer in February 2003:
Rodney Moffitt (Jr.)
On December 23, 1998 we received the news that every parent fears. Our son
I will always remember when the doorbell rang. A happy excited little boy jumping
out of his bed and running to the front door yelling 'it's Andy he is home for
Christmas!'. When the policeman gave us the news that Andy was dead, I argued
with him telling him he had to be wrong. It had to be a car accident not a
stabbing. Young people don't lose their lives this way. It was just
incomprehensible. I immediately wanted to block Michael's ears from hearing this
terrible news. He was too young to have his world torn apart. He was only 11
years old. After the policeman left, Michael came to me and said he didn't think
he could live without Andy. He asked me why someone would bring a knife to a
restaurant where people are there to have a good time. I didn't have an answer
(but 4 years later we found out why, I could finally tell Michael the truth which is
Henry Danninger brought that knife to the restaurant because he intended on
using it if he encountered any trouble).
All Michael's hopes for the future included Andy. Mike lived for him. Andy was his
mentor. Andy always wanted to be a big brother and he turned out to be the best
brother anyone could have ever hoped for. Michael was so proud of him. His
teachers always told us that Michael never stopped talking about Andy. At one
time one of his teachers was worried how Michael would take the separation
when Andy went off to university. She noticed the special bond between them.
You see Mike was Andy's dream come true. Andy had always wanted to be a big
brother and when he was 11 years old he got his wish. Michael came into his life.
Henry Danninger stole from Michael a life long relationship with his brother. Andy
couldn't wait for the days where he would be working and could afford to take
Mike to hockey games, baseball games and in the summer play golf. He even
told Mike that when it was his time to go off to university he could live with him.
They would talk about those future days a lot. Andy was Mike's hero. Henry
Danninger has broken Mike's free spirit and we can't fix it. Today, four years later
Mike still has not been able to visit Andy's grave. He just can't deal with it. His life
has been shattered. We do not know what kind of adult Mike will turn out to be.
There are no words to express the hurt Henry Danninger has done to Mike. We
pray to Andy to watch over his little brother and keep his mind on the right track.
He has all the trials of adolescence ahead of him and now he carries this
tremendous loss. He had me put pictures of Andy in every room. He sits in
Andy's room and plays on the computer with all Andy's belongings around him.
He says he feels close to Andy there. He never wants people to forget Andy. A
few days after we buried Andy we went up to Ottawa to get Andy's belongings.
This was so difficult. We had to go through everything. We felt like we were
invading Andy's privacy. We were looking through all his personal belongings.
We knew he wouldn't like us doing this but we had to.
When we brought everything home Michael said he didn't want us to give Andy's
things away. He said he wanted all of Andy's belongings put in Andy's room. He
didn't want us touching Andy's CDs because they were the way Andy had left
them and Andy's fingerprints would stay on the cases forever.
For the longest time Mike would wrap Andy's quilt around him at bedtime. He felt
close to him this way. Imagine what it is like tucking your little one in bed at night
and he has his dead brother's quilt wrapped around him and he tells you he feels
close to his brother this way. This ritual went on for the longest time until one day
I decided to wash Andy's quilt. Michael noticed right away and was so mad at
me. That night he cried and said I had washed Andy's smell away. I felt so bad
and Michael never forgave me.
I will never forget having to phone Andy's older brother to tell him his brother was
dead. I was the one that broke his heart telling him the most dreadful news
imaginable. To witness the pain that Andy's two brothers and my husband have
endured because of Henry Danninger is like his knife is slowly piercing my heart.
I wish I could take their pain away. I feel so helpless. We have found out how
very special the love for a child is. It never dies. This love is now our lifeline to
Andy. We want to be with Andy and at the same time we have to be here for our
other two sons. They are the only two reasons for us to wake up in the morning.
There is an emptiness in our hearts that will be there forever. We never thought
of the day that someday we would die, but now, we know that this heartbreak will
never leave until then.
Shortly after the slaying of Andy, his older brother Rod Jr. started working a
special web site in honour of Andy, www.andymoffitt.org. It is a brother's
testament of his love for him. Rod Jr. wanted the world to know about Andy and
how very special he was. Through this special site Andy has touched many
people around the world. Most e-mail thanks us for sharing Andy's life with them.
One special one we received was from a man who over time lost touch with his
son. Andy's story gave him the strength to re-connect with him. Some letters
were from young people Andy's age that said that after reading about Andy, they
look at life differently now; they will never take it for granted again. Andy's web
site is his story. It gives families a second chance, something Andy didn't get.
Family is what it is about. Ours is broken but Andy's story is giving everyone else
a chance to fix theirs. Everyone who visits Andy's web site comes away touched
by him. He will forever have an impact on people everywhere around the world.
Andy's memory also lives on through his scholarship set up at the University of
Ottawa. Something positive had to come out of something so terrible. We started
the Andrew Moffitt Memorial Scholarship Fund with Andy's life insurance of
$5,000.00. I will never forget when the cheque came in the mail. I remember
thinking that it was a gift from Heaven from Andy. When people heard how Andy
lost his life to an act of violence and that we were trying to keep Andy's memory
alive, their hearts poured out. Andy's fund has turned out to be the largest
Engineering fund at the University. This is thanks to everyone across Canada
and also the Ontario Government for matching all contributions made during the
first three months through the Ontario Student Opportunity Trust Fund. Andy's
fund will benefit students in the Engineering field for generations to come. Andy
lost his life when he got up to help and now even in death he will continue to help
students fulfill their dreams of becoming engineers for generations to come.
The greatest gift from God is the birth of a child. We heard Andy's first cry when
he came into the world and what a joyful moment that was! Because of Henry
Danninger, we have heard Andy's last cry leaving this earth. This is something no
parent ever wants to hear. Andy's last cry is on the 911 tape. That tape is on replay
and is embedded in our minds forever. There is no erase button. His last cry
will be with us until the day we die.
Henry Danninger took the possibility of future grandchildren from us. One of
Andy's dreams, which he told us, was to settle down and have a family. He even
talked about someday purchasing a cottage for the future. He said it would be a
great gathering place for his children and grandchildren. Now I picture Andy
holding a baby in his arms and presenting us with a beautiful grandchild.
There is always one very special person missing from family celebrations now.
He is the one that lit up the room. He was so special to everyone who knew him.
Now the sun does not shine brightly on anything we do. Now there is just silence
and a huge void.
None of us have had a normal sleep since Andy's killing. I have lay awake so
many nights listening to a young boy crying for his brother in his sleep. If it is not
Michael I hear it is my husband's cries. I do not wake them because I think
maybe they are talking to Andy. In my own dreams I see Andy laying on that floor
with the knife in his heart and crying out in pain. Andy died a violent death and in
today's society this should never have happened. No one on this earth has the
right to take a life.
Christmas time was always the happiest time of the year as it is for most. Now it
is just a reminder of what we had. Andy was murdered two days before
Christmas. It is also a warning to others not to take life for granted. What
happened to us can happen to anyone and when it does, then and only then will
they know what we are talking about.
Henry Danninger robbed Andy of a wonderful life. Just weeks before Andy was
slain he sat in his grandparent's home in Ottawa and told them that he couldn't
be happier. His life was wonderful and he was looking forward to a great future.
His grandparents have been devastated by the loss of their grandson. Andy was
not only their grandson but also their Godson. Can you image what Andy's killing
has done to an 85-year-old World War II Veteran? I have never seen my father
cry, but the day we buried his grandson the tears rolled down his cheeks.
We will never have closure. We know we will never be able to accept the cruel
and inhumane way Andy left this earth. We will all miss Andy until the day we
leave this earth. Andy is forever our son and brother to Rod Jr. and Mike. They
have a special bond with Andy that not even DEATH can break. Andy is part of
our family and will forever be.
We must remember what the priest said at Andy's funeral. He said that most of
us will never get over Andy and that is good because this way he will never be
forgotten. We must remember how the gifted, gentle young man touched all our
lives. He also said, that Andy's killing brought into sharp focus the existence of
evil in our world
If Henry Danninger has any remorse or if he even sheds a tear it is only because
he got caught and now he must face the consequences for stabbing an innocent
victim to death.
Heartbreak is being told your son has been killed.
Through Andy's killing we have found out that we are not afraid to die now. Andy
is waiting for us...
Heartbreak is seeing his lifeless body. We hugged him and kissed him
but he wouldn't wake up.
Heartbreak is knowing he will never be coming home.
Heartbreak is seeing the pain and hurt in his brothers' faces everyday.
Heartbreak is buying a casket instead of a car for a young man who
worked so hard and made us so proud.
Heartbreak is planting flowers on a young man's grave.
Heartbreak is hearing night after night a young boy crying in his
sleep and you cannot wake him because you know who
he is dreaming about and maybe they are saying goodbye
to each other.
Heartbreak is knowing that this tragedy could have been prevented if
a knife would never have been pulled out that night.
This statement is on behalf of my husband, our younger son Michael and myself.
We are Michael's parents and we feel we cannot put this heavy burden on him at
this time. He cannot stand before all of you and especially the killer of his brother
and tell everyone the impact the loss of his mentor has had on him. For the past
4 years Michael has not been able to talk about this terrible tragedy. We have
done our best to keep Michael away from the court proceedings. There is so
much negative reaction to our justice system. We did not want him to lose faith in
it. He is much too young not to believe. Two years ago, with a great deal of help
from his teacher and myself, he managed to do a public speaking assignment to
his class. It was on the killing of his brother, how he missed him and it was also a
message to his peers not to carry weapons on them when they get older.
Michael's doctor has told us that he will talk when he is ready and for us not to
push him. His life has been shattered and we know there will always be a huge
Many times over the past three years Michael has come home from school and
was upset because some of the children would tell him that they had seen the
killer out on the streets. Michael would always ask me why justice for Andy is
taking so long. He said he didn't wish the killer dead because we are not
supposed to think this way. All he wanted was that the killer would be put behind
bars for the rest of his life. He did not want him to ever be able to do anything
that Andy couldn't do. Over and over I would tell him he had to be patient.
Michael and his friends believe that there are consequences to everything a
person does in life. These children are the future. Now I always tell him that it will
be his generation that will make the world a better and safer place to live in. They
are the ones that will have to fix all the mistakes the grown ups have done.
Your Honor, since our son's deadly stabbing we have been monitoring media
reports of how many other victims have been killed or maimed by violent
stabbings over the past four years. I am sure you would be appalled at the
figures as we all are. You can stand up for victims like Andy. He did NOT get his
day in court. You can reclaim our justice system, which has been dubbed a legal
system. You can do this by showing all of us that violence will not be tolerated. A
person who makes a choice to carry a knife and then use it must be held
accountable for his actions. There is zero tolerance for anyone who carries a
weapon on an airplane. There is zero tolerance for anyone who carries a knife in
our schools and there should be zero tolerance for anyone who carries a knife in
a public place. Everyone has the right to feel safe. The punishment should fit the
crime. This is what we believe and so does most of society. He who has taken
one life has committed the crime against all of society. Andy had the right to live
out his life on this earth. His life was priceless.
No one knows how we are really feeling. We have been forced to hide in our
house for the past 4 years. We were not allowed to talk about what happened in
case it might jeopardize the murder trial. It has been our private HELL. Now,
because of having done this statement, our feelings are out. I know how much
my husband is hurting. I have lived with him for 34 years. Sometimes I feel we
share the same heart. I see the pain everyday. Some days I wonder if he is
giving up just putting in time. The zest and wonderful outlook on life is gone. We
both realize our priority now in life is to be here for our other two sons. They are
the only two reasons for us to go on. We have to be here for them.
Rodney Moffitt (Jr.)
In the early morning of December 23rd 1998 my life was torn apart when I
answered the phone and found out that my best friend, and brother had been
killed. That morning my soul was ripped from my body when I heard 'Andy
had been murdered'. I screamed louder than I had ever yelled in my life and
dropped the phone from which the awful news came, then sat down and wept
on the floor.
For the last 4+ years of my life I have had to face each and every day with the
fact that I will never see my brother again. All I have now are memories and
pictures, and that will have to be enough. But it isn't.
In the beginning living was very difficult. Countless times I was just moments
away from taking my own life. Only because of my remaining brother Michael,
and my fiance Karen did I not follow a different path. It was just so hard to try
and face the fact that I would never see Andy again. It hurt so much, more
than any cut or bruise, more than any headache or broken bone. There was
just something deep inside of me that was so painful, it really was so hard to
Right now, as I write this letter, those awful feelings are coming back even
stronger. I remember people telling me, or reading in books about how the
pain will never go away, yet it will get better. The truth is the pain never does
go away, yet it never really gets better, you just learn to deal with it in different
ways. You see when you lose someone so special to you like Andy was to
me, there is nothing that can be said or done to make it better.
Andy was the greatest brother and friend anyone could ever have. I mean this
very much, it really is so true. Andy was always there for everyone, from his
friends and family to strangers he only just met. I can remember so many
times when Andy came through. Only days before Andy was killed, he had
dropped by the apartment of a colleague he barely knew, to help with
computer problems. Others, including myself where too busy and could not
help out. I found out the next day Andy had driven across town, spending all
night to help this person. I remember the bad weather only days before he
was killed, and the little emails he sent to me warning me of the bad road
conditions, as he was up late at night studying and hearing the weather
reports. I remember Andy driving all the way up to my parent's on my mother's
birthday, a week before he was killed. I was not able to make it because of the
weather. He went that night, showing up with flowers and a smile for my mom.
One of the last days my brother was at home, shortly before he was
murdered, he brought a neighbor's child and mother to the Brockville hospital
because of an emergency. He stayed at the hospital the entire time. This is
the kind of person my brother was.
Andy worked as a co-op student at Nortel, where I also worked full-time. Andy
was studying Computer Engineering and was looking forward so much to
graduating. He and I were so excited for the day we could start our own hightech
company. He and I talked all the time about the interesting projects he
and I wanted to work on. I was so proud of my brother and so happy to have
the chance to work with him at Nortel for nearly two years. It was reminiscent
of the times when we were young.
The University of Ottawa, where both Andy and I studied Engineering, was so
affected by what happened to Andy they worked with our family to create a
scholarship in Andy's name. The 'Andrew Moffitt Memorial Scholarship' has
become the largest privately funded scholarship in the Faculty of Engineering,
with a value of over $150,000. I know that Andy would be very proud of his
scholarship as it will help countless young Engineers for generations to come.
My brother will never get a chance to complete his degree, get married or
have children. These and many other things are what my brother Andy
wanted in life, and so much deserved. Every day that I make an achievement
in my life I stop and think that Andy will never get this chance.
Nothing you can do will every be able to heal the wound to my soul. Even if
you were to have the person who murdered my brother executed, my pain
would not be any less as Andy would still be dead. However, you must punish
the evil person who committed this crime, not only because he deserves no
less, but also to send a strong message to all of those who are carrying
knives each and every day. They must learn from example that if they pull a
knife and stab and kill someone they will spend the rest of their lives in jail.
Please make the punishment as severe as possible, it's not right for any
family to suffer like we did. Please help deter others from carrying a knife and
taking someone's life.
How can I adequately express with words the impact Andy's death has
had on myself and my family? Language is a poor medium with which to express
emotion as complex and devastating as that which I have witnessed and
experienced for the past four years and three months; but it being the only
means of communicating my and my family's ordeal to you, I will do my best to
open a window into my soul.
In the months and years following Andy's death three lines from a poem
by Earle Birney reverberated through my mind:
He invented a rainbow but lightning struck it
shattered it into the lake-lap of a mountain
so big his mind slowed when he looked at it
It is a poem about a man driven insane by the oppression of his isolation
in the wilderness. In the solitude of my grief I discovered a new meaning to
Everyone in this society creates rainbows - they are the lives we create for
ourselves that are protected from, and ignorant of, the tragedy that can so easily
shatter the ideal world we believe ourselves to be in. When lightning strikes,
which in our case came disguised as a knife wound in my cousin's chest and his
lifeblood poured out onto the floor of his favourite gathering place surrounded by
friends and strangers, our world is destroyed and our perspective forever altered.
We are haunted by an unfillable void, inconsolable grief, and perpetual sorrow.
We are tormented by a newfound fear for our vulnerability and our mortality, what
I thought was an impossible hatred for the person capable of such an act, and a
growing bitterness at our society and legal system that perpetuates our torment.
I heard of Andy's death before I knew it was Andy who had died. My
brother, sister and I were in the car driving away from Ottawa - going home to
celebrate Christmas with our mother and father at their separate houses. Sleepy
from a late night celebrating the end of exams, I was dozing off in the back seat
when I heard a radio announcement regarding a tragedy in the Capital region. A
23 year old man had been killed in a bar fight in a pub frequented by University of
Ottawa students. For some unknown reason I was concerned by this news and I
fell asleep accounting for the whereabouts of friends, family, and fellow students
who may have possibly been at that unnamed bar. Andy never entered my mind.
Andy and bar fights just don't go together. Andy was supposed to be in
Brockville preparing for Christmas with his younger brother Mike. Andy shouldn't
have been there that night.
I awoke to the car phone ringing and my sister answering. I awoke to a
different world. In my drowsy mind's eye I can vaguely recall her response to my
mother, "No... We heard it on the radio...didn't say his name...". It sounded as
though her voice had been disconnected from her body. My mind was making
the connection between her conversation and the radio announcement I had
overheard while falling asleep, but it was too unreal. Was I dreaming? But the
sinking pit of realization in my stomach made the connection in my mind. I was
not dreaming. This was too horrible to not be real. The question I dared not ask
When my sister got off the phone her voice was choked by shock. I am
tempted to say grief, but grief comes later. Grief is a release. Shock is a
merciful paralysis. To this day I feel so sorry for her. She had to tell us. I have
so much respect and sympathy for those harbingers of tragedy. It takes so much
unspeakable strength to give voice to those dreadful words, knowing, or rather,
not knowing - because you can never fully comprehend the repercussions of
tragedy - the dreadful impact it will have on those listening. I told my father on
Christmas Eve. I think I may have appeared dispassionate. Separating my
emotion from my voice was the only way to release those words. To speak them
made it real. To this day I have been reluctant to choke out those words- "Andy
is dead" ... "My cousin was killed" for fear of inflicting my pain and grief and
sorrow on another human being. For fear that the more I say it, the more I make
I remember little else of that Christmas. That is to say, I remember little
else of the supposed "joyful" aspects of that Christmas. I think we exchanged
gifts. We probably had Christmas dinner. How did we eat? How did we get
dressed? How did we survive? I can't remember. We went through the
motions. We were automatons. We were in autopilot. Our minds slowed when
we looked at the reality of our tragedy. It is all a vague memory obscured by our
I do remember Andy's wake. I remember looking down at his lifeless body
in his coffin and feeling detached from this reality. He didn't look like Andy.
Someone had made a mistake. Andy was full of life, with a mischievous twinkle
in his bright blue eyes accompanied by a sincere smile. Then the sound of
someone's grief in the background of my consciousness returned me to reality. I
looked around at the faces ravaged by sorrow and I knew that this was a
mistake. It was a dreadful cosmic error that cannot be erased, and we are the
victims made to suffer for this error.
I do remember Andy's funeral. I remember the naive priest preaching the
values of forgiveness to a grieving and angry congregation. I remember being
glad that I am not religious because I cannot forgive this act and I refuse to be
wracked by guilt for my justifiable hatred. I remember being glad for my
agnosticism because I would not be disappointed by the weak justification on
God's behalf for Andy's death, that the Almighty "works in mysterious ways" and
that we should be celebrating because Andy was "called back to God". I admire
and envy those who can find solace in these words, but I prefer to consider it a
cosmic accident that would not have happened had one man had the basic
human respect for another person's humanity. This belief allows me to place
blame where blame belongs - on the head of the man being sentenced for
slaughtering my cousin - the man being sentenced for the reduced charge of
"manslaughter" because he finally admitted his guilt after four years of deflecting
blame and perpetuating our pain.
I grieved for Andy at his funeral - for the theft of his future, for the torment
of his death. I grieved for myself at Andy's funeral - for the theft of the
opportunity to know the man he would become, and for the loss of my innocent
faith in the security of my protected existence. But I grieved more for my family,
for his family, and for his friends. I grieve still.
I grieve for Andy's friends - for those who were present that night and
could not save him. I grieve for Craig who tried desperately to stop the blood
from pouring out of Andy's chest, and could not save him. I grieve for these
people who share this torment and have been unable to share it amongst each
other for these past five years, and I blame the legal system for preventing their
natural healing process and perpetuating their pain and suffering.
I grieve for my grandparents. I grieve for my grandfather's loss of faith in
a society he has fought for. I grieve for my grandmother's growing resentment
for a so-called "justice" system that fails to offer any equitable justice and favours
the accused rights more than the victims' I grieve for their loss of ideals. I
grieve for the emotional and physical toll this ordeal has taken on their frail
I grieve for my cousins who blame themselves - those who wish it had
been them instead of Andy - those who believe it should have been them we lost
in a bar fight on a cold December night. I grieve for their anger and their turmoil.
I grieve for my aunt and uncle - for their unspeakable loss. I grieve for the
loss of their son and for the loss of their son's future. I grieve for the theft of
Andy's university graduation, of his wedding day, of the day he becomes a father.
I grieve for the loss of these milestones in a life that will never be. I grieve for
the theft of their happiness. I grieve for the despair they suffer every day, and I
grieve for their fear that Andy will be forgotten, and I want to promise them now
that Andy will and can never be forgotten. Not by me, and not by anyone who
knew and loved him.
But most of all I grieve for Mike. I grieve for Andy's little brother who will
not grieve for himself. I grieve for his refusal to mourn. I grieve for the loss of his
innocence at such an early age. I grieve for the loss of his best friend and
mentor. I grieve for the vacancy in his life that Andy's death has left. And I grieve
for his admirable courage and strength. He is a stronger boy at thirteen than any
man I know. Andy would be proud of him.
When Andy's life was stolen from him, the accused took more than one
life with the thrust of his blade. For every single death taken in this manner there
are an incalculable number of victims. All of our lives were stolen that December
night. We have been forced to take different paths, with different perspectives.
Andy's life cannot be reclaimed, but perhaps, with an appropriate sentence, we
may feel justified in reclaiming some small portion of our previous lives, and
maybe restore a modicum of our faith in the Canadian legal system.
So I am supposed to write about how Andy's death has affected my life and the
lives of my family. How has it not affected us....
Before December 23, 1998 13 grandkids had always been there for my
grandparents to spoil. 13 grandkids and 9 aunts and uncles at family gatherings.
Now every family get together has a cloud over it. Every time we celebrate an
event in our lives there are hidden tears and twinges of guilt that Andy is missing
and should be there. Andy who loved these celebrations so much. We will never
forget Andy. The number of great grandkids may grow, but there will never be 13
grandkids again and these great grandkids will never know Andy and how can
we begin to tell them what a great person he was and what times were like
before he was taken from us on December 23 1998.
Every time I drive down the street from my apartment I see the place where Andy
was murdered and I think to myself do I live in a bad neighborhood? This
neighborhood that my grandparents have lived in for as long as I have been
around and have raised their children in to become adults and raise their children
here. My grandparents who have taught us through their example to be good
people and always be there when family and friends are in need. Maybe that
always isn't the answer. All Andy was trying to do was to help out and look what
happened. Maybe it is sometimes best to turn a cheek and look the other way.
Going to any establishment, celebrating with friends, family all have a different
meaning now. Not only are Andy's Aunts, Uncles and cousins affected, so are
the lives of these people and who we associate with, spend our time with, our
friends and significant others and how we will in turn raise our children. All the
people that ever knew Andy, worked with Andy, played hockey with Andy,
studied with Andy. All these people may not think of the event that happened on
December 23 1998 every day, but it will always be there in their conscience,
shaping the way they do things and live their lives. I can not list all these people,
but I can start by listing Andy's family.
Nanny and Grampy Beriault
Uncle John Aunt Brenda Cousin Brenda Brent
Cousin Chris Roxanne Rachelle
Aunt Pat Uncle Tony Cousin Leslie Jonathan Sam
Cousin Rob Sophie
Cousin Jim Virginia
Cousin Jon Erin
Aunt Lynda Uncle Chris Cousin Jason Leah
Cousin Jonathan Alexandra
Cousin Genny Jason
Cousin Emily Chad
Paulette Rod Roddy Karen
All of these people will forever feel a void in their lives. Will always be thinking "If
this could happen to Andy, what could happen next". Nothing will ever again be
like it was before. From the simplest things like calling another family member
and having a shower for the newest grandkid will always be shadowed by the
fact that Andy will not be here to celebrate with us.
I am so sorry that my cousin Andy is gone. Since my mom answered that
unbelievably sad phone call from my aunt so very early in the morning the
day that we lost Andy, my world has been affected. As I ponder how to sum
up the impact of my cousin's violent death on my life, here's what comes to
1. Andy was a good soul.
My Andy memory takes place on a beautiful winter day, the year before Andy
died. I remember stopping by my grandparents' place, where Andy was living
while he attended the University of Ottawa. I thought I'd say hello to everyone
and then go for a skate along the canal. I had a nice visit and as I was
leaving, Andy said that he'd go skating with me. He had lots of work to do, but
thought that I could use some company. I was almost six years older than my
cousin, and happen to be the world's slowest skater, to boot. Why would he
want to skate with me? (Even my closest friends make rendezvous when
skating with me, so that they don't have to wait-up for me the whole time that
we're out.) Andy and I went skating together that day and Andy did not
criticize, or become impatient, or suggest that we meet up later. It's important
that you bear in mind that Andy played hockey for years, but still, he skated
slowly along the canal with me, chatting and never once complained about the
pace. To me, that sums up who Andy was: a kind-hearted, gentle and patient
soul. - - One of the good guys. That's my Andy memory.
2. I am haunted by the fear of the terrible evil that exists in our world.
3. I am rather heart-broken by the way Andy's death has affected some
of the people I most love.
As with the rest of the family, stories of violence in the news are now more
real; more believable. I have a fifteen-month-old son. Parenthood has given
me a whole new respect for the strength of my aunt and uncle. - - But
parenthood also brings with it my own new worries. I find myself questioning
how safe my baby is in this world. This extends beyond what others might
consider reasonable. I won't open my son's window as he sleeps for fear of
someone trying to get in to hurt or take him. I am also afraid to leave him as
he sleeps so that I might go one floor downstairs into the basement of our
triplex to throw on a load of laundry - - because I fear that someone could try
to hurt my son when I am not there to protect him. - - And when my husband
can't understand what I know sounds ridiculous, I tell him that if he had been
Andy's dad, he'd have thought that Andy would have been fine that terrible
night, too. - - But there is evil in this world; in real life - not just in the movies.
Good guys really do get murdered for no good reason. Bad things really can
and do happen. I know this first-hand. - - And it makes me so distrustful.
When my cousin Andy died so violent a death, the world lost a genuinely good
guy and I became a little bit less rational with regard to the evil that exists in
that world. My family too, as you might imagine, was greatly impacted by the
loss of one of us. The first place that it was felt was Christmas. Christmas
used to be one of the days in the year when the whole Beriault family felt
excited about coming together. It was our happiest day of the year. Christmas
is not a Beriault family celebration any more. Our favorite day of the year is
too close to too sad a day to really enjoy celebrating like old times. The
Beriault family still gets together, but now it's New Year's day. - - A happy
gathering of family with lots of good food - but the level of joy is not the same
that Christmas always held. I kind of doubt that Christmas will ever really feel
quite as joyful again for our family. We'll continue to celebrate, but memories
of what it once was will remain for us to compare to our quieter, simpler, less
crowded family celebrations of now.
I feel Andy's loss at Christmas, but my heart hurts at the quiet suffering I see
in specific family members, too. I have a brother who was a year younger than
Andy. At family gatherings, they chummed together. It saddens me to hear
that my brother felt it should have been him. I saw how upset he was the
Christmas that we lost Andy and I have watched him struggle with accepting
that he should live while a decent guy who he looked up to all his life can't.
This hurts my heart.
I hurt for my mom, too who has watched her sister's pain and not known how
to help. She listened to her sister tell of Andy's last visit - a surprise for her
fiftieth birthday. I see my mom have such difficulty parting from her own
children. -Such an ordinary part of normal life; She can't seem to say goodbye
to any of us without wondering if it could be the last time. I don't know that
I will really be able to fathom my grandparents' pain. - -not even if I should
ever become a grandparent. I have seen changes in them, though. They have
aged throughout this experience. They have lost some of their spark. I know
that time ages people, but this is more than that. I expect that they never
thought that they would have to see a grandchild buried. Who would? I hurt to
see them sad.
My aunt, uncle, and cousins have to be the most hurt by this experience.
These are all people who have shown me love throughout my life and theirs. I
have seen them as generous, giving and caring people. I always loved the
ways that they enjoyed life: they went on fun family trips and truly valued each
other's company as they lived day-to-day. I ache for what they have been
trying to live through since losing Andy. I do not believe that time will ever
totally mend the hurt they feel.
I fear that the world lost a genuinely good and decent soul the night that my
cousin was killed. The violent way that it happened has affected my outlook
on life and the way I live in and view the world. It has also made an impact on
the way my family views life and that affects me in that I hurt for the people I
love when they hurt. Yes, I miss my cousin and I do believe that his death has
had an impact upon me.