In a heart-wrenching video, Amélie Lemieux, opens up about the tragic death this summer of her daughters Norah and Romy Carpentier.
The girls, 11 and six, were last seen alive in company of their father, Martin Carpentier, in Lévis, near Quebec City, on the evening of July 8.
“I spent the day with him. We had a lot of fun with the children, it was friendly,” Lemieux said.
Police believe the trio was involved in a car crash that same evening after Carpentier’s abandoned vehicle was discovered by the side of a road in Saint-Apollinaire.
Lemieux said she was called to the scene of the crash and eventually asked if she thought Carpentier might be dangerous.
“No, Martin could not be dangerous,” she recounts telling police.
“He was a loving father and a caring man. He always, even if we were separated, made sure I lacked for nothing.”
The girls’ bodies were discovered a few days later in a wooded area in Saint-Apollinaire, triggering an intense manhunt for their father.
Norah was found first, according to Lemieux.
“I was still hopeful she was alive. I was still hoping for a happy ending. I couldn’t imagine that Martin could carry out an irreparable action,” she said.
Then she was told Romy had been found.
The shock, Lemieux said, landed her in hospital where she had to fight to see her girls’ remains.
“I hadn’t realized, until I saw them, that it was a point of no return,” she said. “I sang to them. I sang the songs I have sung to them every night since they were born.”
She said it was that moment that she realized she was a mom, but the girls had gone.
Martin Carpentier’s body was discoverd on July 20. Police believe he took his own life after killing his daughters.
The grief Lemieux felt left her at a loss on how to move forward.
“All I wanted was to go be with my girls,” she said, adding that just getting out of bed everyday seemed like an insurmountable task.
She added the situation was made worse because of the circumstances of the girls’ death and the public scrutiny that followed.
Lemieux was quickly put in touch with the organization Deuil-Jeunesse, a charity that helps youth and families experiencing serious illness, the death or disappearance of a loved one, or losses related to parental separation, abandonment or adoption.
Lemieux thanked her friends and the organization for standing by her side and helping her work through her grief, even if it wasn’t always easy.
Lemieux recalled how Josée Masson, the organization’s director general, told her that at one point she would experience a moment of happiness that would allow her to take a break from the pain and that she’d understand that she would be able to carry on.
At the time, Lemieux said she didn’t believe it and was almost angry to hear Masson say it, but on Oct. 12, as she was walking the dog, that moment came.
“Romy had a friend … and I ended up face-to-face with her house. For no reason, I knocked at the door. The moment of happiness opened the door and that’s when I understood that I could continue.”
Since then, Lemieux says she has ventured out a few times to go to the supermarket. She added she’d been feeling anxious about going out in public for fear of being stared at and judged.
As for the future, Lemieux can now see her place in it again. She even said she’d like to have more children, to give Norah and a Romy a little brother or sister.
For her part, Masson said what she sees is a woman who used her trauma as a lever for life.
The nearly 15-minute video, in French only, was produced to raise awareness of Deuil-Jeunesse’s work ahead of GivingTuesday on Dec. 1.
GivingTuesday, is a global movement encouraging people to support their favourite charities. It on the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Masson told Global News it was Lemieux who approached the organization.
“She wanted to lend us her voice and her image for our fundraiser,” she said.
Deuil-Jeunesse is hoping to raise $12,000.
As a thank you, Masson said Deuil-Jeunesse will be dedicating a garden in memory of Romy and Norah.
“We wanted to give her a tribute,” Masson said, adding that a garden in memory of the girls will also benefit others who are grieving.