‘It’s always there’

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 16, 2002

Features Editor

The Rev. Thomas Crossley will stand behind the pulpit of Midway A.M.E. Church in Louisville on this Father’s Day and his sermon will be based on the parable of the prodigal son.

He will talk about the joyful acceptance of a father who lost a son and then found him again.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Crossley knows better than most the pain of losing a son. He does not know the joy of finding one again.

On Aug. 19, 1998, Crossley’s only son Brett, 21, an honor student and athlete at Alabama State University, was found dead in his off-campus apartment. He had been shot in the head.

Crossley knows his son will not come back to this earthly home, but on this Father’s Day, his hope is for some kind of closure that will give him and his wife, Helen, some measure of comfort.

"During Brett’s three years on the baseball team at ASU, he often brought some of his teammates home," Crossley said. "They would ride horses, go fishing and Helen would cook for them.

But, we haven’t heard from any of them. The coach hasn’t called since the funeral. That makes us wonder if they know something. If someone is trying to help a friend by not coming forward, my hope is that they will come forward now. Helen and I need to know. We need to know how we lost our son. Why we lost our son."

For the Crossleys, the holidays are the hardest.

"We were always real close," Crossley said. "Brett made our holidays special. He would bring cards and little gifts and, most of all, a son’s love. Father’s Day is especially sad because it was our special day together – mine and his."

It’s also hard because Crossley will be standing before his congregation speaking to them about the love between a father and son – an unconditional love that allowed a father to open his arms, his heart and his home to a son who had gone astray.

As he speaks, the image of his own son will be in the back of his mind. He will see Brett’s face, hear his laughter and feel the love they shared.

"It’s always there," Crossley said. "No matter where I go or what I do, Brett is always there in the back of my mind. From the pulpit, I will look out to where he used to be. Brett was very active in our church. He sang in the choir. He was an all-around kid. I can’t go a day without thinking of him."

And, Thomas and Helen Crossley can’t go a day without hurting from the loss of their only son.

"The way it happened makes it harder," Crossley said. "Not knowing why his life was taken or who took it from him. Some days I do question why, but I know that, in due time, God will make it known to us. We can’t hurry God. We have to be patient and wait on him."

For Thomas and Helen Crossley, waiting has become a way of life. For almost four years, a cloud has hung over their lives.

"There is so much hurt; I can’t describe it," Crossley said. "But, the hardest part is that justice hasn’t been done."

Knowing what happened to the Crossleys’ son will bring an end to their questions, but it won’t bring an end to their sorrow.

Neither did his death bring an end to their love.

The love of a father and son is an everlasting love, even unto death, Crossley said.

Anyone who has any

information about the death of Brett Crossley is asked to call the Secret Witness hotline at (334)262-4000 or Det. G.R. Naquin at (334) 241-2831.