PARKER, Colo. -- Staying strong in the face of tragedy, the husband of Jennifer Laber spoke publicly for the first time since his wife and young sons were found dead in their minivan earlier this week.
Speaking at his family's favorite park, Ryan Laber said his wife was the most loving mother and that his two boys lived fully.
In his loss, he's asking people to talk about depression and encouraging others to find the beauty in each other and in everyday life.
He said for his family, that beauty was often found in the hunt for blue glass gemstones.
“Smurf treasure as we called it,” Ryan Laber told the crowd at O’Brien Park.
It’s the little things he is remembering and sharing.
“As a family adventure, we had a ritual of placing blue glass gemstones in the backyard for discovery,” he said.
On Saturday, kids who did that very thing as Laber spoke during an emotional vigil for his family. There were blue gemstones for them.
“In remembrance of the caring it takes to keep a family, of the simple joys found everywhere in life,” Laber said, asking everyone to take a piece of treasure with them.
“May it remind you to listen, to love and to live every day."
It has been less than a week since his wife bought a gun and pulled their sons, 3-year-old Adam and 5-year-old Ethan, out of school.
She was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Douglas County Coroner's Office said both boys also died of a single gunshot wounds.
“My wife Jen had an immense love for her boys. She dedicated her life to them. She had a sickness,” Laber said.
He said her mental illness is why he’s speaking out.
“Depression is a disease. It is insidious, cohesive and often operates in silence. Depression can alter reality and uproot every sensibility,” he said.
In this darkness, Laber and his family said it’s about reaching out to others.
“There is opportunity for joy despite the shortened lives of Jen and Ethan and Adam,” Laber said.
“This is a time to celebrate their lives and be happy because Ethan and Adam were two of the happiest kids I’ve ever known, two of the most affectionate kids I've ever known, and Jen was absolutely the most loving mother I've ever met,” said Laber's brother, Josh Laber, who flew in from Minnesota.
It’s about taking the chance to help those suffering like Jennifer to see the light.
“If you know someone who may need help, and don`t have access to help, don`t know how to get help, please lean on them,” Josh Laber said.
Blue glass gemstones or Smurf treasures are now hidden all over O'Brien Park for other families to come out and enjoy.
Friends of Ryan Laber have set up a memorial fund through the family's church to help him as he makes funeral arrangements for his wife and kids.
To donate, visit the BridgeWay Church website. Click on the "give" icon, then click on the "give now" icon.
Checks can be mailed to:
Laber Family Memorial Fund
5201 E. Warren Ave.
Denver, CO 80222