This weekend was supposed to be full of fun. And in some ways, it was. I got to have a real, adult, no kids menus allowed dinner with a dear old friend in town for the night and some of her great girlfriends. My kids were with their dad, so there was not a bit of anxiety over what they may or may not be doing. I should have been footloose and fancy free.
But hours before the dinner, I found out that a young man from my church/school in Savannah who had been missing was found murdered. I grew up with the Ray family, was a cheerleader with their daughter, saw them at Mass on Sundays, and played at their house on multiple occasions. Their Uncle Jimmy was a huge supporter of my first mission trips and leadership seminars, all of which cost more money than we could ever have done alone. I knew their oldest, Charlie, pretty well growing up. I picture the faces of his sister, little brother, mom and dad as they find that their son has been brutally murdered, his body dismembered and strewn across two states. I couldn't help but think that this makes 2 people who had once been in my life, even peripherally, who had not just been killed, but literally torn apart. And despite my better judgement, I couldn't help but go there. I couldn't help but imagine the unimaginable, the loss of a child. And as if that weren't enough, to lose a child and know they were treated with such indignity, such evil. I won't soon get the image of Charlie's mom out of my head. I will await the trials of his killers, and that of Lauren Giddings and pray for justice.
I can't wrap my head around the evil, can't stop thinking about their last moments. It's awful, but even worse, to know that this evil exists makes me want to live in fear and anxiety. It makes me not want to let my children out of my eyes and to drop them off at the nearest cloistered convent and seminary as soon as they are old enough. I've had to force myself not to look at Mary Kate and think of Lauren and her parents. The same with looking at my precious boy with the same love Sandy Ray has had for her boy.
I don't know where I'm going with this, except to say that if you have extra prayers, please, please pray. There is so much on everyone's hearts these days. Every minute there's another horror. But I guess the challenge for me is to honor the lost innocent lives in the way I live mine? I don't know. I know I balk at the idea of sending Mary Kate to school 3 days a week next year because that seems like so much time away. I know I need Ross to hold Thomas for about 8 minutes when he gets home before I want him in my arms again. I sang "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman" to Mary Kate 14 times tonight, knowing full well she was stalling, but also knowing it was worth it when she sang it back to me so perfectly and beautifully. I want to hold them tighter and love them better, but I don't want to do that simply because I'm afraid of being asked to endure what the Giddings and Rays and Sandy Hook families are having to endure. I want to do it because they are a gift from God and should be treated as such. To live in anxiety and fear of losing them is to deny a God that upholds and heals and sustains in the most horrific of situations. I don't honor Charlie or Lauren with my fear. The Gospel of Matthew (14:27), as well as about 200 other places in the Bible, tells us "Be Not Afraid." It is also my favorite hymn. "Be not afraid, I go before you always, Come Follow me, and I will give you rest."
Eternal Rest grant unto Charlie, O Lord. And somehow, some way, bring peace to his family.