Monday, September 11, 2006

Sept 11. 1995

Please allow me to indulge my memories and ponderings. I"ll post about spinning tomorrow.

Sept 11, 1995 is a day burned into my being when my world tilted a bit and the sun became dark.

At noon I went to celebrate a childhood friend's 40th birthday. A bright, warm late summer day. Perfect for lingering over lunch with her family and friends, some whom I hadn't seen since I was a teen. Glancing at my watch I suddenly realized I'd best get a move on it. I wanted to be home before Aurora got home from school. It was only her 4th or 5th day of high school, an uneasy transition from a small country school to the nearby high school with over a 1000 kids.

Coming down the hill and into town my heart sank at the unusual amount of traffic and kids walking about. She'd beat me home. Then I realized there were police cars, and TV trucks seemingly everywhere. Aurora met me in the driveway, shaking with tears and grief covering her face. Violence had vicously struck close to home. Laura and her three daughters had been killed.

A year plus earlier Laura had moved into her mother's home around the corner from us, seeking a divorce from a husband, Dave, who'd sexually abused their two very young daughters. She'd tried telling his family, the pastor at their church and a few others (in another state) about what he was doing but no one there chose to believe her. [Why, he was so kind and thoughtful. He always went everywhere with them and watched out for them. He was a hard working, upstanding young man.] Her widowed mother took her and the two granddaughters in with open arms. She quickly became our friend. I marveled at her deep wisdom, courage and calm. She set about reclaiming a life as a single mom. Aurora became her close friend, mother's helper, and babysitter. Laura became her confidant and mentor. Midsummer Dave snuck into town and violently raped her. She got a restraining order against him. The next April she had a third girl whom she named Hope. She refused to run and hide. She wanted her girls to have as normal of a life as possible. She was so steady and determined to face the world squarely without fear.

On Sept tenth she'd brought over a bunch of grapes from her garden and we talked awhile in the sun. Before leaving she told Ed, "He's going to kill me but I won't give my daughters a life of running and fear."

On Sept 11, 95 he dove the long drive from his home, parked his car on a different block and snuck to the back of the house to wait until the oldest daughter got home from kindergarten in time for lunch. When he heard her voice in the kitchen he used his shotgun to blast his way into the house. Laura grabbed the two older girls and grandma scooped up Hope in her arms and they fled into the front yard where he gunned them down. Then turned to grandma, her arm spattering blood from pellet wounds when the baby was blown from her arms. A man from our church who'd hear the first shotgun blast and instantly knew what was happening, hurled himself down the hill and leaping out of his car tackled Dave and held him there until the police arrived.

The mindless shocking grief, anger, and disbelief which surges when something like this happens is beyond words. A vibrant young mother and three little girls ripped away in front of their grandmother. Selfishness beyond comprehension. Dave hung himself in the county courthouse a few weeks later after receiving a life's sentence without parole.

We in the neighborhood and meetinghouse where she also attended tried to make sense of the pieces, then realized there is no making sense of some acts of violence. It is evilness manifest in human flesh. We can't allow ourselves to plunge into seeking vengence, only justice. We came close together realizing that out of this tragedy the hope we hang onto is knowing that we will see Laura and the girls in heaven. And more tangibly comforting was the knowledge that now they all abided in true peace. They'd left the world of abuse, fear and worry behind. It was a remarkable thing to watch the grandmother's strong resolve to stay strong in her faith and love of God. Ed repaired the backdoor and walls and a week later she moved back into her home where she stayed for another three or four years before moving to a retirement home. It was a home of peace and subtle yet palpable joy mingled with a shade of sorrow. My fondest memories of those years were of gathering in her living room to make music. People of all ages from teens up invited friends from towns around - we never knew who'd come with what instruments, what songs we'd sing. Laura's cousins now live in that home. We hold fast to the hope and faith in the knowledge that God is good and His goodness will triumph someday.

And so on 9.11.2001 as the tv unfurled the stunning pictures and news my heart broke once again for all those sorrowing because of senseless violence. And yet I prayed that calm minds and hearts would prevail. I still pray for that. And for wisdom in the hearts and minds of the world's leaders. For common sense, compassion and a humbling of their selfs. I pray that they turn away from vengence, anger and self-righteousness and seek the common good for the least of their people. That the powers that be would come to the realization that there is a time to lay down arms to come together and work hard and diligently for peace. And I pray most of all that they realize that violence only begets violence. And I pray for forgiveness! I am so saddened and ashamed at the pain our leaders are causing innocent peoples of other lands. And more, as a believer in Jesus who lived in love and forgiveness, I am grieviously ashamed of those who claim His name but are not acting in love. This is not how Jesus asked us to live.

"He has shown you what the Lord requires: To do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8


Blogger Jo said...

I'm deeply grateful for the strength you found to share this with us, Wanda. I can't say more except that my tears are falling with yours for the memory of that experience and just the tiniest part of your pain is being taken into my own heart.

It must just make all of us here, reading this, more determined than ever to work together for peace, not ever strike out at others.


12:30 AM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

I am deeply moved by your post, I am also in tears, if this world were filled with more people feeling the way you do, it would be a much better world. "Be the change" You are beautiful.

4:30 PM  

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