Oprah Talks to Christine McFadden
Oprah: I think people assume it would be too painful to live in the home where your children were murdered. Maybe they're projecting how they would feel. But Dr. Phil once said something I've never forgotten. He was talking with a woman who couldn't move forward after losing her daughter ten years before. He asked, "Are you going to let your daughter's life be remembered by the one horrible thing that happened to her on the day she died, or are you going to remember the 18 years of beautiful life she gave you?" The woman said, "I never thought of it that way." Nor had I. And it seems to me that you're in this house because the life of your children—and not just their death—is here.
Christine: This is where they were born. I can still see their smudgy handprints on the walls. The plants they planted are here. Stuart's tree is out in the front yard. Stan painted the house. The few minutes it took somebody to come in and put bullets into them is not what my children are all about.
Oprah: I get that. I do. What did you do with all their stuff?
Christine: I gave some of it to their closest friends.
Oprah: I just saw Melanie's cheerleading skirt hanging in her closet.
Christine: Melanie's room hasn't been touched. But I'm not looking to maintain a living museum.
Oprah: Are you in contact with their friends?
Christine: Yes. I've watched these kids grow up—I've known most of them since they were preschoolers—and they still drop in to see me.
Oprah: Has that helped?
Christine: Tremendously. This house was a place where kids came together, so when it's filled with kids, that feels normal. Melanie's friend just drove up from San Diego to visit the twins. I also see Stan's and Stu's friends, as well as a couple of Michelle's classmates.
Oprah: And when will you tell the twins about what happened to their siblings?
Christine: I don't have an answer. One of my fears is that when they're in preschool, someone will say something to them about it. I worry about that. So could that eventually mean leaving this house or leaving this town? Yes. I brought these girls into this world, so I'll do what I think is right for them—even if that means erasing the other children. And if I felt any resistance on the part of the community to connect with the girls, I'd also consider leaving. I want my daughters to have their own identities and not be overshadowed. That's why some of these family pictures are going to gradually be coming down. I have to do it gradually. To make a fresh space for the girls, we adjoined Stu's and Michelle's rooms, and it just erased them.