02 June 2007

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?

"Pray you now, forget and forgive."
Shakespeare, King Lear

In a perverted idea of love and forgiveness, the families of murder-suicide victims "honor" the couple's relationship by burying them together. Everyone seems to be either in denial or have a secular ultra-modern idea of love, family and propriety that baffles. I can't imagine a priest presiding over a funeral Mass in a situation like this, but for the pastor in this case to sweep the crime, sin and tragedy of this under the rug and point to the smoke screen of the couple's healthy, loving relationship is beyond comprehension. Undoubtedly, a very hard time for the families. But, as we are called to forgive, we are also called to admonish the sinner. Just because the murderer is not here, doesn't mitigate what he did.

For the record, if someone ever does something like this to me, don't bury me with them, don't put us in the same plot, don't even put us in the same cemetery.

Families honor couple's loving relationship and not the tragedy of their last night alive.
St. Paul Pioneer Press, Thursday, 31 May 2007
(My emphasis added)

Justin and Jackie Norman, both 27, were remembered Tuesday and laid to rest Wednesday as a loving couple. They were buried in side-by-side graves.

That police believe he killed her with a hatchet and then jumped to his death from a bridge wasn't the point, a family pastor said Wednesday.

"They both (the families) agreed to do it this way," said the Rev. Orville Hieb of Word of Life Church of Coon Rapids. "Their faith allowed that. ... Jackie's mom told me, 'This is not the Justin that we knew and loved.' "

Hieb acknowledged the inspiring way the families have grieved together, including an embrace between Jackie's mother and Justin's parents, is "extraordinary."

The Blaine couple's deaths one week ago remain a mystery to police, friends and relatives, according to investigators and those close to the families.

Sometime after midnight May 23, several neighbors at the Restwood Terrace mobile home park thought they heard a woman screaming. At 1:38 a.m., Justin Norman called 911, told the dispatcher where police could find a woman's body, noted that an unharmed child was there and added that no one would understand.

Police found Jackie Norman dead on the front porch of the couple's mobile home and their 4-month-old son uninjured inside. A short while later they found Justin Norman dead on a grassy shoulder along Interstate 35W, beneath a high overpass. Last week, the Anoka County medical examiner's office ruled the deaths a murder-suicide.

No evidence - no previous problems at the home, no drugs, no past criminal records, no suicide note - has yet surfaced to give police any clue as to why it happened, according to Blaine Police Chief David Johnson.
"The impression I got is that all this came as a complete surprise to both families," said Blaine police chaplain Garret Parten, who has worked through the grief and shock with both families. "My impression is that the whole tragedy that took place was completely out of character for their relationship."

Parten summarized the families' reason to memorialize the couple together: "This was not Jackie and Justin and we want to remember them for who they were in life, not how they died in those last few hours. Regardless of how bad this is, we want some good to come out of it." A relative now cares for the couple's son.

On Tuesday, photographs of the couple were placed in the lobby of Word of Life as members of both families filed in. Hieb was the only person who spoke to those gathered. "There's just a lot of unanswered questions, and we may never know the reasons," he recalled saying.

He said it would be normal under such circumstances for families to feel angry, or at least awkward, seated together. But such feelings, if they were present, never surfaced, he said.

"It's primarily their faith that has brought them together to the point where Jackie's mother was able to embrace the parents of Justin," he said. "I think it's very commendable that they were able to do that. It's not the usual response. It's extraordinary."

Through Parten and Hieb, the families have declined media interviews. Last week, the families issued a brief statement together. "We are putting our faith in Jesus to help us through this tough time," it concluded.

"It was a significant thing that they were working together on this," Parten said. "Something bigger than both those families is at work here."


Ray from MN said...

It's critical to put faith in Jesus.

And we should forgive.

But I don't understand.

It makes one ponder about how few of us really know friends, neighbors and relatives.

And it makes one wonder as to what could have gone wrong to have one person do something like that to a "loved one."

Think how often one reads in the paper after a tragedy such as this, the comment of a neighbor "he was such a friendly guy."

swissmiss said...

That's what is so weird about this. We need to forgive, absolutely, but there is just something strange here. If someone killed someone I loved, I would try to eventually forgive that person, but I certainly wouldn't bury them together or act like the tragedy had never happened.

Sanctus Belle said...

We must forgive, yes. But we must, as you said, admonish the sinner. I find it very disturbing that they were buried together. Obviously something was very wrong between them. In trying to put myself in the place of the murdered wife's parents, I would certainly forgive the murderer, would strive not to blame his parents, but I certainly would not allow a joint funeral, not a burial side by side. To do so is to admonish the truth.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to congratulate St. Catherine of Siena for winning the Saint of the Year award