Reflections on a Tragedy


I follow a lot of news; it's part of my job. While I do keep my eye mostly on the political news, it's hard not to see what else is going on abroad. In the UK, a 21 year old young woman namd Libby Squires was raped and murdered by a stranger looking for prey (a man of course; a father of one, believe it or not). About the crime, I do not feel I have the right to speak. I hope Heaven is a place of justice, not only of mercy.

The thoughts that come to my mind, though, were in response to the words of the young woman's mother at the end of the trial, where the perpetrator was declared guilty of murder. She has joined the most terrible club in the world, a club of mothers who did not understand that to have a child means that child can be killed, and if your child were to be killed, you would die. I don't mean you would die literally, though suicide after the death of a child is not unheard of.

Lisa Squires, Libby's mom, had this to say: "There are no words that can explain the torture of living without my Libby. She was a sister, a granddaughter, niece and cousin. I have not only lost my daughter but the opportunity to be a grandmother to her children. In any times of trouble she wanted me, her mum. Knowing I was not there when she needed me will haunt me for the rest of my life. I now live in two worlds where I live as a mother, wife, friend and employee but there is also a world that will run parallel and is a dark and lonely world. In this world, I long to die so I can be with my girl. I wake up with disappointment that I will live another day. This is a world where I silently scream in pain and pray that one day we will be reunited in a dream, a world where we constantly look for signs in every rainbow. A world I didn't want to be in. Imagine wanting to live to be here with your children but one where you long to die so I can be with my child."

Ah, yes. Yes. This. Every morning when you wake up, for just a moment you don't remember that she's dead. Then you do, and it's like someone punched you right in the heart. Really, it's a physical feeling of having been punched. It's so painful. Every blasted morning. What hurts the most is that there is that one moment per day when she is not yet dead, again.

Another mother put it this way--I can't find the original, so props to whoever she is. She said it's like you and your family are at the Grand Canyon, and your little girl goes running right off the cliff. Your first instinct is to run right after her. Even after you think about it for a moment, it's still what you think to do. You have to try and save her, and if you can't save her life, you want to be with her anyway so that she would not cross that great divide alone.

And you do look for signs, you can't help yourself because she is so present for you. With that much presence, there would have to be a sign, wouldn't there? There would be no way there would not be a sign. And for some mothers, there is such a sign. And for others, there is not.

And if you have other children, it's even worse. You know they need you, too. They need you to be healthy enough to look after their needs and love them, and . . . smile. And laugh. Things you don't know how to do anymore. So you realize that if you love your kids, you are going to have to fake being a healthy mom. Because you love them. And because you have to keep a roof over their heads, so you have to be healthy enough to function at work.

So . . . Libby's mom is correct. You have two lives: one public, and one private. One where you are alive, and one where you are dead, or screaming in pain. And that little intersection in the morning, for one second, every morning.

I think the hardest part is that to become alive again, you can't keep her alive. But not keeping her alive feels like the grossest betrayal. Almost a second betrayal, because the first was to not go with her. So you resist that second betrayal. You resist it as hard as you can.

People want you to move on, but there is nothing you can do to make that happen. It either happens or it doesn't. The grace comes, or it doesn't. The timetable is not yours to determine.

I would tell these things to Lisa, if I could. I would tell her to read if she finds herself alone so her mind will not whirr with pain; I would tell her to never play sad music, only peppy, happy music. I would tell her to hang in there, even if at first it is only for the sake of others. One day the grace comes; it comes in fits and starts. It feels like all your emotional circuitry has been fried, but once in a while the current flows for a moment. And then somehow it flows more regularly. And one day you have a life again. It is never the same life; some damage is too deep. But there is a work-around, somehow. It took three and a half years for me to smile and actually feel the smile.

I wish Lisa Squires well.