On December 19, 2016 when I found my two sons, Ryder (13) and Radek (11) murdered by their biological father, I couldn’t fathom writing a book and working towards making changes in societal systems and creating awareness surrounding my story. I couldn’t see how I would be able to go to bed that first night and wake up the next morning without their physical presence in my life. However, that night I made a promise to my sons to keep their legacy alive and to let the world know their names and now, almost six years later, here we are with our book Gross Misconduct: Hitting from Behind.
My therapist, now co-writer, Sandra Young Kolbuc, who specializes in trauma therapy has walked beside me in this healing journey and has co-written our book from her eyes as my therapist. Sandra understood how difficult, emotional and heartbreaking it would be to relive the years, months and days leading up to Ryder and Radeks deaths. We took three years to get our story onto the pages of the book you now hold in your hands.
Our mission in writing my story is to create awareness and urge changes in both attitudes and systems that failed me and my sons and to keep that promise I made to my boys that first night.
A quote from the book: “As I continue to move forward to find peace in my soul and reckoning for my boys, many have walked beside me as the reality of the death of my sons resonated in my bones. More than anything, other than their return to earth, what I want for my boys is to know that although their lives were short, they made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of other mothers and children caught in systems built to support them but which wretchedly failed to do so.”
Sandra and I want to thank you for being brave enough to read my story. We encourage you to imagine walking in my shoes as you turn the pages of the book and after you’ve turned the last page we hope you will have the courage to share what you have read between its covers and help us make changes to our broken systems. We need your strong and influential voices to speak up and speak out. Filicide - the death of a child by a parent - was totally outside my awareness until that day in December 2016. Family violence must end and together we can make that change in the name of my sons, Ryder and Radek.
Sandra Young Kolbuc, BPE, MSc, RMFT, CCC is a trauma-counselling therapist well-trained by The Canadian Foundation of Trauma Research and Education (cftre.com). She is the mother of four adult children and the grandmother of nine and lives with her husband David in the beauty of the boreal forest near Whitecourt, Alberta. Sandra continues to influence those needing to find their voices about things that matter. (aimcounselling.ca)
Tracy Stark and her husband, Brent, are former co-owners of the Whitecourt Wolverines Junior A Hockey Club. Tracy also heads The R&R Empowering Society of Alberta. Tracy is the stepmother of two adult daughters. She and Brent have recently moved from Whitecourt to Edmonton, Alberta where Tracy continues to advocate on behalf of women and children in the name of her sons, Ryder Patryk and Radek Stryker.