Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reading...and Reflecting

There's nothing I can say about the Virginia Tech shootings that hasn't already been said on other blogs. This is truly a parent's greatest nightmare: the fact that you can't always protect your children from harm, or evil, or whatever you want to call it.

I'm reading Amy Mihaljevic: My Search for Her Killer by local author James Renner. Being a true crime buff, and familiar with the case, of course I snatched it right up.

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The story is riveting, and hits home for several reasons. One, because it happened in my area in a neighboring suburb. Like everyone else, I was mesmerized by horror. Two, because Beth was only two years younger than Amy at the time. We heard the news that her body had been found as we were riding home together from Playhouse Square. I shut the radio off because I didn't want her to know.

Amy was tricked into meeting a stranger, on the premise of buying a surprise gift for her mom. This is someone who knew Amy's phone number, contacted her at home, and made her promise not to reveal their secret. Amy did confide in her friends, but this didn't come out till after she was abducted. Coincidentally, she was taken from a shopping center directly across from a police station, and one of the officers there had spoken to her 5th grade class that very day about personal safety.

What brought me to tears was when Renner, a child himself at the time, recalled a conversation he and his father had the day Amy's body was discovered, months later, in a secluded field many miles away. His dad asked, what should you do if someone tries to kidnap you? James said he would fight, make a lot of noise, and hopefully "kick him in the nuts."

Then his father asked, what would you do if you were already kidnapped and found yourself handcuffed somewhere, unable to escape? James had no answer, so his father instructed him--and this is where I lost it--to "eat" anything and everything he could get into his mouth. In other words, to swallow as much evidence as possible so that when they find his body, they'll hopefully find clues as well.

I can't begin to describe how hard this passage hit me. My heart goes out to all the parents who not only lost their beloved children in the Virginia Tech shooting, but also to families like the Mihaljevics, whose babies will never be coming home.

Thank you, God, for my children.


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