Skip to comments.**SEATTLE TIMES COLUMNIST FEELS SYMPATHY FOR CHILD KILLER** Tragedy's lesson: You never know
Posted on 11/30/2004 12:18:08 AM PST by paulat
Tuesday, November 30, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Nicole Brodeur / Times staff columnist Tragedy's lesson: You never know
Stephen Byrne "savored life."
It said so in his paid death notice the other day, which I read with a mix of sadness and outrage.
Savoring life, to me, is not being at the center of a murder-suicide investigation, where police suspect you killed your own two daughters before killing yourself.
But there they all were in the newspaper yesterday: Byrne standing with a smile on his face. Kelsey, 11, beside him, her head against his hip. Hayley, 9, cradled in her father's right arm, her head turned from the camera just as I turned from the page, again and again yesterday.
But then I kept reading, searching the list of Byrne's personal and professional accomplishments for some reference to what happened last week at his Shoreline home.
Police were alerted by a 911 call from Byrne and arrived to find the girls dead in their beds, Byrne dead in the back yard of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. It made the news and sent family and friends reeling.
But all it says in Byrne's obituary written and paid for by his family is this:
"There is great tragedy in how his life ended, and theirs, but know that this was a loving, good man who did the best he could while struggling against an incomprehensible burden that none of us who loved him could have known."
"... How his life ended, and theirs ... "
That's the only reference to what toxicology tests may very well confirm was a selfish act: Byrne taking his daughters with him, rather than leaving them with his ex-wife and their mother, Suzanne Dawson, for safe-keeping for the rest of their lives while he navigated his pain.
I have chronicled enough sadness to know that stress and depression can distort love and logic like a funhouse mirror. And that a lifetime of accomplishments money made, children raised, hobbies and awards and roomfuls of friends can mean nothing when followed by one horrible act.
So I feel for Stephen Byrne.
But I feel more for the girls. And so their inclusion in their father's obituary got to me.
It got to others, too. Readers who called to ask if I had seen it. Callers on talk radio.
But then someone in Dawson's family answered the phone and taught me again what I have to keep learning: You Never Know.
The family had seen the obituary, the relative told me. "We're OK with it," she said. "We need to be."
In times like these, she said, people don't want to focus on the "bad stuff" about Byrne.
"There were things in his life to be honored," she said.
She asked not to be named; it was time to regain some privacy around this public tragedy. But she allowed that the families had pulled together.
"The pain of what happened ... we're dealing with it face-to-face," she said. "Love and forgiveness are the most important things. And that's what we have to strive for."
So once again, I was reminded: You Never Know. How a capable father will deal with sadness. How a family will deal with an obituary.
How life will go on.
Nicole Brodeur's column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Some rooms can't be entered.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Liberals are so lovely in their defense of "family values." I guess killing your own kids is a Blue State kinda thing.
And so it was.
...gee...just one little thing can blow the whole deal....
Except, of course, bloggers and talk radio hosts. Bloggers can discuss issues in far greater depth than newspapers, and talk radio can spread information to a comparably-sized segment of society. Together, they can challenge newspaper dominance.
Sick and demented. When a father or mother kills their children it negates ten times over, all the good they did in their life.
This guy was slammed by his wife as far as custody, so his revenge is to kill his offspring. Do you have to be on drugs or all liquored up to do that?
I was speaking of liberal values. You don't see that kind of thing in Texas or in Flyover Country happen - I mean you know being understanding of and sympathetic to deviant and criminal behavior. Sure crimes do take place in areas that vote Republican but no conservative would ever be as crass as Nicole Brodeur. That's why I called it a "Blue State thing."
And so it was.
...we think alike...she ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer...
once wrote a gooey post-impeachment column about Clinton saying she was still sexually turned on by him...and another...referencing "Mutiny on the Bounty" and Captain BLY...
(...it's BLIGH for the Rio Linda-ites....
This is a 2 paper town...and hard as it is to believ, the other one is worse:)
The family wants to be in denial-land, who can blame them?
...two dead children....
... I can't type the words that are on my lips because the Moderator will get me. But "OK with it"? OK WITH IT???? What kind of nutcases are IN this family?!
I realize the relative is talking about the obit, not the crime. But I am still dumbfounded. Miss Manners said (if memory serves me correctly) that when someone in your family does something dreadful, the less said, the better. A short and sorrowful obit would have been appropriate. Not a "celebration" of this monster's life. And of his daughters' deaths.
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