Finally, Patrick Bernard, the coach of Rundlett Middle School, lifts his heels

The past is chilling for Patrick Bernard.

The future, however, is full of hope.

He runs a free indoor football program for middle school students. He is seeking funds to honor his family and remember his sister’s love for education and music.

In 2004, when Patrick was 22, his brother, Chris Bernard, stabbed and killed their sister, Tricia, and her two children, Gillian, 4, and James, 2, at Chris’s house in Manchester. Sensational headlines across the country followed.

Open wounds, slow to heal, stubbornly fresh for years, fueled dreams that pushed Patrick to the bottom of a bottle of vodka.

“I had flashbacks to the murder,” said Patrick, a football coach and special education teacher at Rundlett Middle School. “There would be a picture of them being stabbed, because there was a real picture of them being carried away in body bags live on WMUR.”

He drank for years, quitting just 15 months ago. He ran away from the truth and like most of us just couldn’t explain the darkness that people like Chris feel that causes them to kill the people they love.

How could Chris murder his own sister and two children, the brothers’ niece and nephew? What was going on in his head?

“He was depressed, bipolar, and he was addicted to oxy (contin),” said Patrick. “It just continued on its downward spiral.”

Patrick wanted to take that spiral and turn it into something positive, and it was never too late to launch an idea. Its indoor soccer team, for at-risk children and refugee children, plays Fridays and Saturdays at the Bow Athletic Field complex.

He has a dozen children, sixth and seventh graders, enrolled. Some play for his Rundlett team; some have never played.

He is a school-certified behavioral technician, working in the special education department, guiding people with intellectual disabilities or behavioral disorders.

They are part of his list. Like the kid who insulted the referee during a football match. And the one who stuck a fork in a socket.

(Yes, the student was shocked).

“Some need individual attention in addition to a course or special speaking services,” Patrick told me.

He connects with these children, worries about them. He says he quit drinking thanks to medication, therapy, and the deep thought that he was following a similar path to his brother.

“I reached my highest level of acceptance a few months before I last had a drink,” Patrick told me. “Group and individual therapy takes you back in time to reconnect your brain to good thoughts. “

That’s where the Panther Elite comes in, which is part of a 10-team league. He will need the money to keep the club going, which draws teams from Manchester, Goffstown, Hillsboro and Hooksett. He said he would pay for the equipment and gym time himself if it was that, then worry about being reimbursed later.

And, judging by the turnout last month when the season opened, his Panther program might need more coaches.

“We ended up having so many players that I had to add a second team,” said Patrick. “You should have seen the faces of the children when they entered the country house. It was as if they were entering a major league stadium.

He played football at the Manchester Memorial and still lives in Manchester. He tries to teach children important lessons. Speak. To reach. Don’t underestimate the power of alcohol and cocaine.

Patrick has the credit of the streets to lecture these children. He was there.

And he had an event, October 4, 2004, locked in his head. Chris killed their sister and children, leading to Patrick’s dark and desperate place.

Chris was the oldest of five children, 14 years older than Patrick the youngest. Patrick remembers that his brother had a lot to offer.

“He was outgoing and popular in high school,” Patrick told me. “He entered the Marines. I have always admired him. ”

He received much needed structure in the Marines, but then had a child out of wedlock. This stress was on top of the deep-seated mental illness that had already taken hold of Chris’s mind.

He had a serious motorcycle accident and then became addicted to the oxy which was supposed to make him feel better. This story continues to rage across the country.

Patrick was in elementary school when his brother started doing somersaults. There was only so much he could know.

“There were more depressive days, things that happened more often,” said Patrick.

He said the knife that had been stuck deep into a watermelon in the family kitchen had struck him as strange during those dark, late days. Chris also played childish pranks. Few laughed.

“He had a manic episode that I didn’t know about,” Patrick said.

Patrick kept James and Gillian. “She was a character, a ponytail, very fiery, very opinionated.”

He continued, “James was small, but you could tell he would be a thrill seeker, jumping things and hugging my dad. Fearless.”

At school, Tricia has stood up to bullies, supported outcasts, has never been tried, according to Patrick. He said they were close. She was athletic, a high school cross country star who could eat dessert until the cows came home and never took a pound.

She worked at the reception at Elliot Hospital. She was studying nursing and was a physical trainer. She loved to dance.

And as a child, with mom as a mentor, Tricia cooked, winning the Little Momma title. She never stopped cooking.

“She loved it,” said Patrick. “We always had big dinners on Sundays and she would come with her family. Christmas morning was a huge brunch, a great memorial to have the whole family together.

Dedication to family is what drew Tricia to Chris’ house that day 17 years ago. Chris had been depressed, more than usual, and Tricia feared he was suicidal.

“She went to see him without fear of what was going to happen to her,” said Patrick. “She took the children. His mind was already gone. She walked in there.

Chris received three life sentences. Patrick has visited him twice since the murders, but not lately. His parents visit him regularly. Her siblings, Patrick said, cope using a mixture of denial and anger.

He focuses on indoor football these days. Free indoor soccer, for kids who need a boost. He wanted to do something for his sister. Make his name mean something. Make him life means something.

Tricia would have turned 48 on October 28.

“The idea is that I wanted to do something charitable,” said Patrick. “I wanted to do something to help, and I wanted to dedicate it to my sister, my niece and my nephew.”

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