A tragic car accident on a snowy and slick Indiana highway took the life of the 21 year old son of the Maple Leafs president and GM along with a friend, 18 year old Mark Reedy of Michigan who was in the car with him at the time.
For any parent, this is the worst possible circumstance that life can throw at you, the need to bury a child so young, one with such promise and vitality with a life still unfulfilled.
On a day such as this, the competitiveness of the sport, the results of a game are of no consequence, of little value really, barely worth a thought compared to the larger picture .
It was only a few months ago that Mr. Burke's son Brendan took the courageous step of revealing his sexual orientation, a move that served to help break down barriers in a sport that is hesitant to take on that torch, still very much steeped in a culture that dates back by generations.
It was a telling moment about the nature of Mr. Burke the father, as he shared in his son's declaration, a very public endorsement of his son's rights, coming from a man who cherishes his family privacy yet realized how much of a pioneer his son was to become.
A number of news articles of the time last fall, showcased the pride that Brian Burke had in his son, the same kind of sentiment that mothers and fathers have for their children as they navigate the troubled passages of young adulthood.
Globe and Mail-- Burke stands by son 'with an axe'
ESPN.com-- 'We love you, this won't change a thing'
Toronto Star-- A son's secret, Brian Burke's love
Toronto Star-- Brendan Burke: Support 'overwhelmingly positive'
There really are no words that can do justice to the hurt that the Burke and Reedy families feel this day, only the realization that life is at times seems so unfair and that the memories of the joys that their sons brought them in their short time on earth, will prove a comfort over time.
Anyone who has a child will keep the families in their thoughts today, seeking to understand the fragility of life and that sometimes there are no answers, only a need to offer our sympathies.