Un TJ dépressif tue un copain TJ de qui il était tombé amour

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Un TJ dépressif tue un copain TJ de qui il était tombé amour

Messagepar Conspirator » Lun Sep 04, 2006 8:37 am

Un couple de TJ recueuille un jeune TJ dépressif qui tue par amour l'un de leurs enfants:

Trussell's gift turns heartache
e-mail print The Record

Sunday, September 3, 2006

By DOUGLASS CROUSE
STAFF WRITER



Sue and Terry Trussell know the rewards of nurturing a troubled soul. They also know the heartache.

As Jehovah's Witnesses, the couple have brought their faith to the doorsteps of strangers and opened their home in Ringwood to congregation members in need.

Several years ago, after a lapsed member attempted suicide, the couple sat down with their two teenage sons: How would they feel if the young man came to live with them?

For the next 10 months, Cole Dykstra found refuge with the Trussell family.

"He was like a son," Terry Trussell said last month in the room where Dykstra had slept.

But their house guest was battling an unspoken desire, which drove him finally to commit an act of unfathomable violence.

On that night five years ago, Dykstra crept to the bedside of Arthur Trussell and thrust a knife into the 16-year-old's belly.

For his parents, the murder provoked intense pain and self-doubt. And it raised questions that pervade their lives:

"How do we build and accept a level of trust when we can't read hearts, we can't read minds, and we know that we've made drastic errors?" Terry asks. "We've had to face these questions for five years."

For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens: a time for birth and a time to die ... a time to weep and a time to laugh. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2, 4)

The Trussells find their blueprint for living in the Bible.

But the answers to questions of how to grieve and whom to trust are always evolving, always subject to added scrutiny, always deeply personal.

The couple never intended for them to appear in print.

Terry made that clear when a visitor walked down his driveway one sultry July evening, asking that he and his wife tell the story they had never shared publicly.

They were private people, the 54-year-old said, with no desire to draw attention to themselves. Still, as Witnesses, they knew what it was to knock on a stranger's door, hoping to be let in.

Now on the other side, they agreed to hear their visitor's questions.

After offering a smile and a handshake, Sue Trussell settled astride an exercise ball on the living room floor. Her husband sat flat against the back of the couch, hands folded on his lap, the Bible he always carries at his side.

Upstairs a sewing machine clicked faintly. Sue, 52, had been teaching a teenage girl from the congregation how to stitch a dress, and had left her to finish the job.

As Sue began speaking about her son, the words came out soft and unrushed.

They called him Thor, she said, reaching for a photo. In it, Arthur's smile spread wide, a hint of mischief in his eyes.

Sue's smile, people say.

Thinking about the loss of that joy, Terry said, "can be overwhelming."

In that first year, when the world was drained of color, they tried to fill every moment: Bible studies, grief counseling, trips to help build a regional assembly hall in Newburgh, N.Y.

Sue spoke often then with a friend who also had lost a son.

What the Witnesses believe

Known for their door-to-door ministry, Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves Christians but differ in significant ways from traditional Christian denominations.

They believe, for example:

• The human soul ceases to exist at death.

• Satan is the invisible ruler of the world.

• Righteous people will be physically resurrected on a renewed Earth.

• 144,000 specially chosen individuals will be born again and enter heaven.

They do not believe:

• Every passage in the Bible should be taken literally.

• In the deity of Jesus Christ.

• In the Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

• In the need for a special clergy class.

"Your ears fill up with tears in the mornings," the woman said one day.

It surprised Sue to hear such intimate truth out loud. Many times she had lain in bed, tears running along her temples and into her ears -- so much that she had to sit up to let the salt water drain out.

Some days, before leaving for his electronics service office, Terry would look in and see Sue at the edge of the bed, her eyes bloodshot, cheeks wet.

"I felt guilty about that," she said. "That he would have to see me in such pain and was helpless to do anything about it."

Other mornings begin happily, with thoughts of Arthur in his younger years, jumping onto the bed, giddy at the start of another day.

Then Sue becomes aware of the silence surrounding her, and the memory of what happened hits like a hammer.

'Typical Arthur'

Arthur came into the world in a rush of water that spilled into the hospital hallway. His parents had anticipated a long wait: his brother Patrick -- by then a toddler -- had arrived two weeks late.

"It was typical Arthur," Sue said, laughing. "Patrick is silent, cautious like Terry. He doesn't do things right away or impulsively. But Arthur ... that kid came out fast."

He grew strong and longed to climb, to run, to feel the wind pushing back.

On a long drive through Oregon, Arthur propped himself up on a rear window ledge and held on to the roof. Sue recalled turning around and seeing only the first grader's legs.

"In his imagination," she said, "I think he was riding a horse over the hillside."

After his childhood in California and South Carolina, the family moved in 1995 to Ringwood, where Arthur spent long hours on the frozen lake behind their home.

He read broadly. At the Kingdom Hall in West Milford, he sometimes passed notes to his parents. One requested an increase in allowance, citing scriptural support.

Independence became a thing he increasingly craved as a teen. He got a cashier job at Stop & Shop, took an interest in heavy metal, tried cigarettes. When he got caught smoking on a corner, it convinced his parents that, at some level, he wanted to be discovered.

Photos from his later teen years are often blurred, as Arthur dashed out of the frame on his way someplace else.

Artist's sketch

After his death, friends tore up the bloodstained carpeting in his third-floor bedroom. It is now a guest room, where his parents sometimes lie down, staring at the ceiling as their son would before slipping into sleep.

One wall bears an artist's sketch from Arthur's childhood: "Everyboy Interviews the Benign Dragon that Fought St. George." In it, a teenage boy sits back, hands clasped around his knee, the famed dragon looking on peacefully.

Sue drew her fingers across the print one day as her husband stood beside her.

"The benign dragon," she whispered. "That's the one that wouldn't hurt you."

So it came about that while they were in the field Cain proceeded to assault Abel his brother and kill him. Later on Jehovah said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" and he said: "I do not know. Am I my brother's guardian?" Genesis 4: 8-9

Sue had been close with Nancy Dykstra. She knew that her friend's only son had been abandoned by his father before trying to take his own life.

When the Trussells offered to take Cole in, she gratefully consented.

Patrick, now married and living in Sussex County, and Arthur considered the 24-year-old computer expert an older brother.

At the Kingdom Hall, Arthur -- at 6 feet, nearly as tall as Cole -- often stood next to him to hear his deep baritone voice. Terry marveled at the bright young man's command of the Bible.

"Cole was skillful enough to stand up in the Kingdom Hall and, at a moment's notice, give a five-minute talk as if he'd prepared it for weeks," Terry said.

From the heart

But while comfortable discussing computers and parables, Cole rarely spoke of the emotional crisis that had brought him to the Trussell home.

"Cole had a hard time talking about his feelings of depression," Sue said, "so drawing out feelings in general was very hard."

Their younger son, in contrast, spoke from the heart. And it was Arthur's expression of feelings for a girl at work, Dykstra would later tell authorities, that threw the house guest into a jealous rage.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, 2001, Sue was on a business trip in South Africa. Days earlier, a car crash had nearly claimed her life.

It had been a desolate area, Zulu country. She hadn't seen the other car. It may have been hidden in a dip in the road, or by a heat bubble rising off its surface.

Sue was at the wheel, pulling onto the highway, and took the full force of the side impact.

The engineer and technical writer recov-ered with support from fellow Witnesses and felt well enough to call home that Sunday. Cole got on the line, speaking in his usual monotone.

"He assured me everything was OK," she recalled. "He told me, 'Everything is fine. Arthur will be fine.' "

The reassurances struck her as odd.

But no one knew anything was wrong. When Cole went to bed that night, no one saw the beer bottle and the 8-inch kitchen knife tucked away at his side.

He waited. Then, after midnight, Cole attacked the boy he would later say he had fallen in love with.

A description they heard in court still makes the Trussells sick: The assault, a prosecutor said, nearly cut Arthur's body in half.

"Cole knew what he was doing," Sue said. "It wasn't a moment of passion. He knew Arthur would have fought, so he hit him over the head to knock him unconscious."

They had insisted the case go to trial. Instead, Cole Dykstra was allowed to plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter.

In August 2003, almost exactly two years after he stabbed Arthur and fled in the family's Saturn coupe, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

It disturbs the Trussells to think how they misjudged him. They had checked up regularly with their sons, asked if they felt comfortable with the situation.

Of course, they'd say. Cole was their friend.

Guilt still nags Terry. "I really think I fell down in protecting my family," he said. "That's my gut feeling."

Element of faith

The couple even wonder what drew them to Cole. "For him to hide himself so well and not to share that with anybody, we have to ask: Did he really have feelings?" Sue said. Where Cole professed in court to love Arthur and his family, they saw only a desire to possess, to control.

"The definition of love that he could have given you a five-minute talk on -- what he did went directly against that," Terry said.

The betrayal illustrates an element of their faith: Satan is not a cartoon sketch, but an insidious force, a being that can corrupt even those who, like Jehovah's Witnesses, pledge to stay morally clean.

They were aware, too, that letting their anger turn to rage could hand the devil a wedge into their hearts.

Still, they wrestle with forgiveness, with what their God requires of them.

"God never said in the Bible he's going to accept all people, no matter what you've done," Sue said. "If that is our model, it wouldn't make sense to accept one another no matter what."

Given an opportunity to comment, Cole sent a brief, typed letter from his cell at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.

"I am deeply sorry for hurting Arthur," he wrote. "I try to empathize with his family everyday, and everyone whose life Arthur touched."

The Trussells say they haven't seen evidence that Cole is truly repentant. "He said [in court] that he regretted the pain he'd caused us," Terry said. "He didn't say he regretted killing our son."

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Exercise faith in God, exercise faith also in me. In the house of my Father there are many abodes. John 14: 1-2

A little over a year after Arthur's death, the Trussells invited another man in his 20s to live with them. He was a volunteer at the congregation, someone they felt comfortable with.

Witnesses often invite each other to stay in their homes. But the couple had struggled with again taking that step.

"It was no longer a small decision to have someone else in our home," Terry said. "I couldn't do it unless Sue felt comfortable about it and vice versa."

Judging character

More friends followed, usually for weekends, and often to escape a situation at home or at work. With the years, the couple have become more conscious of how they judge character.

"If what people say doesn't match what they're doing I'm much more alert to that," Terry said.

Early in their grieving, Sue had worried that sharing too much of her own pain would compound her husband's.

"For a long time I hesitated in talking to Terry," she said one day.

After a moment, her husband spoke. "But we didn't turn away from each other," he said.

"No," she whispered. "That's true."

"We drew together," he said.

During a Sunday service last month, the Trussells took notes on a speaker's Bible lesson, Terry's mother, Betty, at their side. A few rows back sat Nancy Dykstra.

A tacit rule

They remain friends and had shared dinner the night before. But always, the two mothers observe a tacit rule: Neither speaks of her son.

It's been only six months that Sue has been able to say: "Arthur is dead."

Once he was gone, Sue found some Sunday messages too painful and would leave the service and stroll along a nearby brook her son had liked to explore. She returned one recent evening, after hours of door-to-door ministering, to dip her blistered feet in the cool water.

Later that night, she recalled an experience during the last summer of Arthur's life.

The boys had taken on a computer wiring job at Sue's former office in Somerset County. She had just lain down to rest when Arthur ran in.

"Mom, get up, get up!" he said. She resisted. "You have to!" he implored.

Taking her hand, he led her outside. It was a still moment, dusk turning to dark.

"Mom, look."

There, beneath an overgrown tree, fireflies sketched trails of light.

"We just stood there and watched, sharing the moment," Sue said, sitting beside her husband in their living room.

"A moment he was able to bring to you," Terry said.

Something occurred to him then. A verse that described the next world, a renewed earth where they believe they will embrace their son again.

Terry moved to the edge of the couch, his fingers feeling their way through his Bible's worn pages.

As he looked up, a cardinal alighted on the window ledge outside.

"Hey," Terry said to his wife. "How about that."

It was a sight their son would have pointed out, something, just a few years ago, they might have missed.

As they watched, the male bird twittered and chirped on the other side of the window's lace curtain.

Then, with fluttering wings and a flash of red, it was gone in the late afternoon light.

E-mail: crouse@northjersey.com

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