Since that time, Comeau has stopped by the little park to sit on the bench and think of her son.
”I work in North Andover and sometimes I visit his grave at the Ridgewood Cemetery and have lunch,” she said. “But when I’m out and about and have a feeling, it’s also nice to visit his bench.”
On July 26 of this year, LaBrode, who is a Haverhill Brightside organization volunteer, was checking on the park’s two wooden benches, which he had refurbished with help from a friend, when he noticed things were out of place. The granite bench bearing Justin’s name was missing and the two wooden benches had been moved. LaBrode found the granite bench in the water. Both legs were broken off.
LaBrode was outraged and notified several city officials by email.
He soon began receiving offers of help from people who wanted to donate money to have the bench fixed or replaced.
“I knew decent folks would step up,” LaBrode said.
Comeau heard about LaBrode’s discovery and could not understand why anyone would damage her son’s bench.
”You always question why, but you don’t always get an answer,” Comeau said.
“It was like having my heart ripped out again,” she said. “It’s not that you ever heal, but I learned to live life without Justin.”
She said a co-worker told her he knew Dave LaBrode as they run together.
“I contacted Dave and I felt so much better after talking to him,” Comeau said. “He was adamant that it would be repaired or replaced. I told him to let me know what I can do, and he said not to worry about anything.”
Comeau’s friends, family and co-workers were there to support her as well.
Vincent Ouellette, director of human services for the city, arranged for the Public Works Department to remove the bench from the water. They delivered it to Atwood Memorial Company in Bradford after Rick Atwood said he would fix the bench at no cost.