Saturday, April 2, 2016

The rest of the story...

I used to listen to Paul Harvey, and I loved his tagline, "and now you know the rest of the story." It has been ringing in my ears since I began to blog about our recent family tragedy. Now, nearly 2 months later, I am ready to blog the rest of the story... 

I've written that my husband's sister and brother were victims of a violent crime, both killed February 5th. The rest of that story is that the man who killed them is also their youngest brother. The three lived in a home together, a house owned by their parents (who live about 2 miles away, in another home). I am not 100% sure which of the boys moved in first, but I am sure his sister was the last to join the household. 

For as long as I have known them (some 32 years), I have seen evidence that these siblings did not always get along. Even though it was not uncommon for some combination of them to be living together before their most recent living arrangements, they often quarreled. Family gatherings usually brought up questions like, "Who isn't coming to Christmas (Thanksgiving, etc.) this year?," or "Who is fighting with [name of sibling]? We might not see them this time..." The inquiries were coupled with lighthearted jokes...the squabbles usually seemed small, and they passed quickly. However, even with the frequent quarrels between them, the siblings also regularly socialized together, going to the local bar, playing cards, and poking fun at one another. 

Of course, it is not unusual for siblings to quarrel, to not get along, even as adults. Apparently, however, the scale of their malcontent was greater than any of us  had imagined. On that fateful night, around 2:30am, after the act was completed, the baby brother of the family called 911. "I just killed my brother and sister," he calmly told the operator when she asked what the nature of the emergency was. The call lasted 13 minutes, and it ended with my brother-in-law being arrested and taken to the county jail. My mother- and father-in-law lost 3 children that day. We lost 3 siblings that day. Our 3 nephews lost their mother and uncle at the hand of another uncle that day. 

For 32 years, I have done my best to love and honor this family I eventually married into. Each time we would visit, I would hug each of them warmly, often whispering to each brother-in-law in turn (after making a great show of caution, of not being overheard), "You know, you're my favorite brother-in-law!," which always made them smile. There is so much conflict within me, loving them and missing them, and dealing with one of my "favorite" brothers-in-law who is now in jail, awaiting trial for the murder of his brother and sister.

My husband has spent those same years distancing himself from his family of origin (as you do), a family where he sometimes felt small and unimportant as a child. With 5 children in the family and both parents working full-time, I am sure that they all took turns feeling that way when they were young. But through the past three decades, Sweetie and I have nurtured a strong, loving, life-long commitment to each other. Our love has brought us through the good, the bad, and the ugly in our past and present family and extended family relationships, as we clung to each other and did our best to honor our families of origin. Love is the choice we have made, and it has been a good one. I am sad to say that this kind of a relationship is not something that my husband's siblings have had.

Throughout these past two months, I continue to knit and cope with my grief and confusion in the best way I know how. My mother-in-law and our nephews plan to bury Cindy's and Randy's ashes in the woods, on their property. She asked if I would knit covers for the containers before then, and I have. The activity has actually been quite therapeutic for me. I have grieved with each stitch, and I have prayed for those left behind.

I have also created some trinkets to hang from my rear-view mirror, to help me remember the siblings we will not see again. I added a little teardrop to each one, because I will always mourn the fact that they are gone too soon, their deaths horrific and at the hands of their own brother...and there are still tears to be shed.

So now you know the rest of the story. Where do I go from here? I keep knitting and praying. I pray every day for each family member: mother, father, nephews, brothers (even that baby brother in jail), and all the extended family and friends. I pray for my husband, and I pray that we all learn to live and love well in our new normal. I pray for peace that passes understanding, and I pray for a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to come to each of the surviving family members. I pray and I watch for others who may be feeling small and unimportant. I pray that I might bring some encouragement through a smile or a kind word, that I might brighten a gloomy day with the light of Christ, even if there is only time for a brief glimmer of hope to shine through. 

I know that this post could be seen as a bit of a downer, but I really don't intend it to be. I just wanted to finish telling what needs to be told, mostly for my own personal closure. I hope that you have found something encouraging in your day today, but even if you have not, it is still early. There is time. Be looking, and know that to me, you matter. You are important. You are loved. 

Thanks for stopping by. Won't you smile at someone today?


  1. Love and hugs to you all. I continue to to keep you and your family in my prayers.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. Prayers seem small, but they are powerful, and I know that they are instrumental in getting through this.

  2. You cannot truly and earnestly pray for someone without coming to love them. Your surviving brother-in-law is lucky to have you in his family. Adding my own to yours, thinking of those kids, and for you, too.

  3. Pam, I am so very sorry. There are no words. I will add my prayers to yours.

  4. My dear Pam, I needed to read your thoughts. I just couldn't wrap my head around this tragedy. I pray for you and Eric. Keep your faith and God will get you through this as well as He can. You will always have the hole in your heart, but offer the pain for your family's healing and you will also heal faster. You, darling have to be the team leader in this. You are head nurse. Be brave. I love you. Ask the Mother of God to lend you her strength and support. And she will be a comfort.
    -- Aunt Chris.

  5. Pam- may you be eric's rock in this time of trial, so that he may rest his head and cry and heal in the safety of your love and support. Love, cousins bill & jill

  6. Pam, I cannot even begin to imagine what your family is going through. Know that your family is in my thoughts.