As I was parking my van at the Yoga center, I heard our local radio station talk about a double shooting at a street which I cross almost on a daily. My ears perked and all I got was that the adults were shot, and the teenage girls ran to the neighbors for safety.
I said “Oh God, hope this isn’t a family drama” and ran in to do some downward dog. At the end of the class, I brought it up with a neighbor and she nodded sadly, but no one knew anything more. Routine sets in, and the day hums along, and every few minutes, my mind wanders to the girls, to the tragedy. I unleash my sleuthing skills and then wished I didn’t.
“Last name, Street name” – Dad’s name comes up.
More googling has nothing on the man, not even Facebook.
I fall upon a link (a fairly popular one that most of us in the county go to for local news, school discussions, etc – a forum of sorts) and a name pops up. It’s the mom’s. One other person who is a neighbor mentions that she is a PE teacher at another middle school.
“last name, Middle school, teacher” –> My base middle school pops up.
Open Middle school staff directory, search by last name –> I have the whole first name
Facebook Search –> I have a profile and it is the right one according to the “about” The Profile pic is that of a family – Husband wife, flanked by two girls with a setting of a lovely home, their feet in sand and smiles on their face against an evening sun. Nothing is clear, but it’s a good long shot.
Another link in the above forum mentions that a daughter is a senior in our local high school, and the second one is a middle schooler (same schools my older kids went to)
“Last name, High school” –> One link with a first name pops up as a Basketball player. (The school is very popular for its games and athletic department)
Facebook search –> I fall upon a profile that belongs to the high school, and we have a common friend. Her classmate is my son’s good friend who also happens to be on mine. The profile is closed, but the pictures are open (as are most teenagers’ albums)
A most beautiful girl smiles back at me. Her 30 odd profile pictures span 3 years, and you can see how beautifully she’s grown and how beautiful she has always been. Not gawky, not skinny, not the awkward 14-15 year olds. There is a picture of her with her sister. In a halloween costume. Outside their home. In a swim suit, in a bikini, in basketball gear, in a stripes sweater. Her lush brown hair falling across her face, the impish smile, the grins, and the hugs between her and her bestie, her sister, her boyfriend, outside our high school, one with her dad wearing proud grin and smile, the comments just endearing and happy, one with her mom peeking from behind, one where her dad is grilling over a barbecue, her sister on the trampoline, and then the summer holidays, the skis, and so on.
I was obsessed.
..and now am haunted.
She will never leave my head anytime soon. I cry for a complete stranger. She is my son’s age. She is dealing with Senioritis, with college application deadlines, with AP subjects, with trying to make sense of how she went to bed just worried about how as a highly competitive NoVA district student where she would go to college and then, rudely wakened in the cold 30 weather to know that suddenly, she doesn’t have a mom to cook her dinner, to read her essays, to get her dad to drop her off when she is running late, to play ball and the list goes on.
I go back to the forum. More messages drop in. One is the student of the mom, the PE teacher. She says “She was ion my top 5 favorite teachers. She was always happy. She used to say how amazing her husband was and how they never yelled at each other or called each other names”
One more said “they were the perfect suburban family. This is insane”
I shut that forum, unable to take it anymore. I don’t care what happened, that’s irrelevant, at this point at least.
What will happen to the kids? Do they have an aunt or an uncle who will hug them close through their nightmares, will they still be able to grow up to what they dreamed of? who will sign their permission slips? Who will go shopping with them as they prepare for senior prom? who will cheer and clap for them as they go down the aisle for their convocation? is she 18 yet? Coz if she isn’t she is still a minor. What happens then? Did the parents write a living will? will the house stay? will they be okay financially?
Teachers and the schools here are amazing in how supportive they are to such life’s tragedies. They will support her. The teachers will bend over backwards to make sure she maintains her grades, with extra classes, tutoring, all out of their own free will and with the only intention of making sure she (and her sister) will continue to get their basic education (more so the senior – 12th grade) coz she is the support and the rock that the little one will be looking to.
Am sobbing as am writing this, coz she could be my daughter. She is my son’s age. Maybe they even had gym together once.
Yesterday they were a happy family.
Today, they stand alone.
I hate how life is barely a constant. Teaches us a few things.
- Never to take *anything* for granted
- A life is worth a lot. If things are not working out, walk away. It’s a smaller tragedy than losing a parent. Kids in all honesty just want to be loved and know that they can count on you to be there for them. If you do not exist, it’s ducking out. You ARE failing them by dying or removing yourself from them.
I have no idea (and it really doesn’t matter) why he did what he did. I know I will be looking out for the sisters from afar. I just hope that they have all the support to get through this. They will get through this. Human nature and mind is not fragile as we may like to believe. We are all warriors and we will brave the storms and we will ride high.
The catch being, we must want to.