Dear Extended Family of Peter,

Christmas is over. We made it. Now we await his birthday, the anniversary of his death, other Christmases, wedding, other funerals. We sincerely thank you for your greetings and gifts though we did not send any to you this year.

You have asked what you can do to help us. As you know, grief does not end. You surely must miss him too. After all, you knew him when he was a babe in arms, had gangly legs and arms, funny teeth, stupid antics. You can help us by talking about Peter, with us or among yourselves, saying his name aloud, sharing any thoughts and memories (and dreams if you’ve been lucky enough to have them) that may creep into your daily life, at any time, month to month, this year or next. Peter is ever present in OUR minds, we will not forget him. You will NOT make us feel bad or sad if you mention him or his death. In fact, talking about him helps us enormously.

We realize Peter was no more special than your special loved ones. He was devilish and sometimes selfish, as well as generous and often fun. But he met a very tragic, untimely death, wholly undeserved, and we have months if not years ahead of us of court proceedings in which to try to seek some justice. Please feel free to ask questions.         

Nothing will bring Peter back. But talking and sharing helps us remember him. And memories are all we have! We need you desperately. You are among our remaining special loved ones.

 With loving gratitude, Mary and Mark

Mary Westra

Mary Westra

Mary Rondeau Westra grew up in Northeast Minneapolis. She graduated from Macalester College and taught French for eight years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. When her two daughters and son became teenagers, she went back to work, launching a 10-year career of fundraising for arts organizations. She retired from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2002, shortly after the murder of her son, Peter. She became a Master Gardener and museum guide and started writing. Mary continues to be inspired by Peter. Over the years since his murder, she has reached out to other parents of children who have been murdered — writing them letters or picking up the phone. She stays in contact with a number of Peter's close friends from childhood and Middlebury College. And every year on July 8, she and her husband, and any family or friends who are present, wake up early and go down to their dock on the lake, sitting together to mark the hour that Peter lived after the attack in Atlantic City. Mary and her husband, Mark, live in White Bear Lake, Minn. They bike and hike together, watch birds, play golf, and Mary tends the garden; they spend time with their adult daughters, and Mary has begun to knit for her first grandchild, born in 2010.

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