Friday, December 25, 2009

'It's when you have to go out and buy him a wreath instead of a present that it gets you down'

THERE will be no gifts bought this year, just a wreath.

On Christmas Day, Steve Collins and his still- devastated family will lay it on the grave of their son and brother Roy.

The 35-year-old was killed when a gunman entered the family-owned games arcade in Limerick last April and shot him in the back.

"It's when you have to go out and buy him a wreath instead of a present that it really gets you down," said his father Steve yesterday as he prepared for a sad Christmas.

"This time of year is usually a happy time when I would be out shopping for presents for him. I never thought I would be buying him a wreath and it was heartbreaking. It just broke my wife Carmel's heart."

The anguish is still raw for Mrs Collins. "She finds it very hard," said Mr Collins. "She is not coping well at all. But the whole family suffers -- it's devastating."

Instead of giving him a gift on Christmas Day the family will come together to lay a wreath for Roy. The whole family, including Roy's fiancee Melissa Crawford, who he was due to marry last summer, and daughters Shannon (12) and Charlie (8) will gather at the cemetery to be close to him.

His brothers Steve and Paul, sister Leanne and cousin Ryan Lee will also be there. "Christmas is never, ever, going to be the same for us again," said Mr Collins.

"And it's hardest on his children. It's times like this that it hits home that their daddy is not around -- God love them. Certain days they really struggle."

While they know he's gone, Mr Collins does his best to protect them from the chilling details of how their dad was murdered at midday as he worked in the family's amusement arcade at Roxboro shopping centre.

Mr Collins believes Roy is watching over them. "I always feel him with me," he said. "We all do and that's a comfort. I know he is around us and I don't think he will leave us until he knows that we are all safe."

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