Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I feel……

I don’t know HOW I feel. I am terrible at eloquently expressing my feelings in writing. I can say I am happy, I am sad, I am mad, but somehow that doesn’t CONVEY the FULLNESS of what I feel… know?

I’ve been very angst-ridden over a tragic and terrible situation that I learned about over the weekend. Well it actually started on the 4th of July when a local young man was reported missing. Same thing we ALWAYS hear……not in his nature to not show up for work, not his nature to not check in with family….etc. Although this situation is alarming, unfortunately it happens, and many times with terrible outcomes. I casually followed the story and Perfectly Pessimistic really thought that not much good could come of a 19 yr old BOY being missing.

My niece, Heather and I did lunch and shopping on Sunday. As we stopped for pie (like I need any pie) Sunday afternoon, she mentioned that the body of this young man was found (remember, I didn’t have my computer then, and I don’t get the paper, so I was not up to date with any news). It made me feel TERRIBLE, but I guess I felt it wasn’t unexpected with him being gone for over a week. As we were paying for our Perkins pie, I picked up a discarded newspaper (the Sunday local paper) with this young man’s photo on the front. I scanned the article, and realized with HORROR that I knew the suspect in this young man’s murder.

Well, I guess I don’t exactly know HIM, but I know the rest of his family. Well. Son #1 is good friends with the murder suspects younger brother…they play sports together and hang out sometimes. We went to this family’s home on New Year’s eve and had a WONDERFUL time. I gravitate towards the mom in this family at ball games and social events surrounding our kids…….I get so SICK of the put on attitudes of the ‘perfect mom’s”, and there are 2 people in particular that I gravitate towards, and think of as friends…..they are honestly good people whom I LOVE to see. They don’t put on the ‘perfect family’ air or ‘my kid is better than your kid’ underhanded comments. I truly LOVE these ladies. The mom of the murder suspect is one of these ladies.

I am heartsick for her. And her husband and younger son. These people are some of the kindest, nicest UPSTANDING people you’ll ever meet. I just don’t know how to HANDLE it. There’s not a Hallmark Card out there to address this type of situation. My mom thinks I should call them and reach out to them. I worry that it will appear intrusive and like I’m ‘fishing’ for info, which I would NOT dream of doing.

I’ve thought about writing a heartfelt note and following up with a call later on when maybe their lives are settling down some, but that seems kind of cold and distant. I know MANY people in the community will rally around this family BUT there will be those that ostracize them and put them on trial right along with their older son. There will be those parents that won’t let PRESH-US hang out with the younger boy anymore….even though they were PERFECTLY comfortable with it 2 weeks ago………..

What do YOU think, internet? What should I do? Somehow a casserole and a shoulder seems so LAME compared with what they must be dealing with. Besides, they many not WANT my casserole and shoulder……

This in no way is to diminish the grief and devastation that the family and friends of the boy who died must be feeling. I can’t imagine.

What I’m trying to illustrate, I guess is that we ALL pass judgment on others. We all make assumptions, and never in a MILLION years would I have expected such a tragedy to befall this family that I adore. It’s amazing how EASY it is to label a criminal act committed by a stranger as HORRIFIC and EVIL. But when you actually know the family……I find myself suddenly feeling compassion and empathy for them. I feel TERRIBLE now for not realizing with CLARITY before now that tragic situations don’t only effect the victim and/or victim’s family…….it effects the lives of the suspect’s family and the entire community as well.

What should I do? How does one make that call or write that note? I’m at a loss for words.


Kristen said...

Actually, I think you did a great job expressing how you I'm all upset too.

I don't have a clue what you should do. Maybe a blank card is good and just write, "we're here for you" in it just so they know that you don't hate them and that you're not judging. I think I would appreciate that if I were them.

And maybe some pie and a casserole too.

stoogepie said...

Hey Shelly, I second Crissy's comment: you did a great job of expressing your feelings here.

I'm really sorry to hear you're going through this. That, in itself, goes against conventional wisdom, which seems to hold that only the families of victims are entitled to comfort.

A few years ago, while I was still in school and a little bit after, I worked with criminals. Mainly murderers, many on death row, but all stripe of violent offenders and then some chronic non-violent offenders. One thing I learned is that violent crime impacts entire communities. The friends of the friends of the friends of people who knew the offender can tell harrowing stories of sleepless nights not knowing how to cope or how to best support the people they care for. The feeling of helplessness runs wide, and society does not offer people who are not immediately related to the victim an entitlement to those feelings.

A mom of an especially heinous death row inmate who was a local antihero once told me that she had been in a grocery store and gave her credit card to pay. The cashier saw her last name and joked, "Well, no relation to (Murderer), I hope." She said, "Yes. He's my son." Icy silence. She waited until she got outside and into her car to cry.

I think your friends probably need to know you still love them and, for your own sanity, you probably need to reach out and maybe you need a shoulder, too.

I would suggest you be completely up-front about it and send a card that says something like, "Hey, I heard about your son and I just want to say that I'm here for you. No questions. No prying. We can talk about reality TV and drink wine if you want. I can just make dinner for you one night when you can't drag yourself to the kitchen. The only question I have for you is, 'how can I support you through this?'"

But you should say it better than I just did.

Based upon your blog entry, I know you can.

Good luck with this. It's tough. Keep us posted if you're up to it.

And we're a community, too, so if there is anything you need, let us know.