Twenty two years! It doesn’t seem possible but yesterday marked the anniversary of our son’s death. He was twenty nine years old, in the prime of his life. He was home for his sister’s wedding, after which he would be attending the Colorado School of Mines for an advanced degree in engineering. The entire week is chronicled in my memoir, The Week from Heaven and Hell, but one can’t help but think about it with the observance of the fifth year without Stacey Burns.

Five years versus twenty two years- does it make any difference? YES (and no)

Think of it like this: The impact does diminish as each memory, each event, each family or friend visit, and each dark moment lying in bed at night with a vision of what might have been dances through your head with each passing year. Stacey’s are five years out; ours are twenty-two years out.  I can think about Gary without sobbing, as I did for who knows how many years after his death. There are those who can think about Stacey without sobbing and, as the years go by, more and more will join this group. It is the human thing to do; without that defense mechanism, we would go crazy.

Here is the thing: We could do nothing about catching a perpetrator after Gary died. The electrical malfunction in his heart had no reasonable explanation. He had a pilot’s physical three weeks before his death and nothing showed up. We could not blame anyone for taking our beloved son away from us and away from a world that could use people like him. God comes to mind but that question will be asked on a different plane.

On the other hand, Stacey’s family, friends, colleagues, and community DO have someone to blame. Another human being chose to take her life away. Yesterday was a sad day for us as was May 10, 2009 for those in Stacey Burns circle. We do not have the option of searching for Gary’s killer; her survivors, including family, and friends,  do. It remains to be seen if, seventeen years from now, they will still be wondering–who could have done this to her and to us? If that is the case, trust me because I know, you will not be sobbing  but it will be as painful as it ever was.