Thursday, January 7, 2010

World on Fire: One Community Loses a Shining Light

2010 is not beginning the way anyone would want their year to start.

For my community, the beginning of this year has been marked by pain and loss, sorrow and confusion.

On Monday we learned that a family from our neighborhood was missing. On Tuesday, we learned that the two children, a boy and girl in third and second grades, were in Virginia with relatives. Their father had dropped them off on Monday. On Wednesday, we learned that the mother was dead. Murdered by her husband.

Her name was Maureen. And I didn't know her. I had seen her at the school and at the pool. She was close to friends of mine. Yet, I am shaken to the core by this.

You see these stories on the news all the time. A father loses a job or has financial trouble or loses his mind for one reason or another and murders the whole family. Yet, reading about it on CNN is a hell of a lot different than experiencing it so close to home.

I can't stop thinking about it. I'm so worried about her children.

I picked up my son's ragged lovey yesterday, a dog named Uffie. And as I held him and smelled his dirty fur, all I could think was "Who will make sure Maureen's kids' lovies are preserved?" Who will treasure and hold on to the mementoes of their childhood? As if that even matters.

Their childhood is gone.

Shattered. Stolen.

By their father.

I am furious. And heartbroken.

And I am amazed by the things I have learned about Maureen. And sad I never knew her. She sounds amazing.

All of my friends who knew her and everyone who posted comments on her Facebook page has talked about how she encouraged them and helped them. They talk about her smile and laughter and quick wit and passion for life and family.

I wish I had known her.

Maybe that's why I'm so sad.

My community lost a vital member. Someone who was a vibrant life force who inspired others and made them believe in themselves. Someone who saw the joy to be had in life and embraced it.

I've certainly seen and been a part of my community coming together to support one of its own in quite meaningful ways. But the outpouring of love and emotion I've seen for Maureen has been astounding. I am thankful to be a part of this community, but I think we are lessened by the loss of Maureen and her children who will, I am sure, be going to live with relatives.

I hope we will all, even those of us who did not know her personally, honor Maureen by carrying something of her optimism and joy for life with us.

May she rest in peace.