What do you say to someone who's had a family member savagely murdered? Especially when that family member is a precious little 10-year old girl?
That was the position I found myself in yesterday...and I can only hope that what I managed to mutter held some comfort, or some solace, for the grieving family.
Let me back up...
This was National Safety Week, and a local K-Mart store had asked for American Red Cross volunteers to discuss fire & tornado safety with their customers, and especially, children. There were two of us who volunteered to work for about four hours yesterday, and we were kept busy, quizzing the kids on "Stop, Drop and Roll" and insuring that parents had discussed fire escape plans with their children.
We were stationed near the Customer Service desk, and midway through our shift, a group of people walked in...they were wearing purple ribbons labeled "Jessica", and it was easy to see the grief and shock on their faces.
I knew immediately who they were, and my heart suddenly broke into a million pieces....
If you've been following the national news lately, you know that Jessica Ridgeway, a 10-year old little girl, had been found murdered this week in Colorado. All Jessica had done was innocently head out to go to school that morning. Jessica's father lives in the Kansas City area, along with a lot of Jessica's extended family, so this tragedy has hit close to home for us living here.
The extended family came to K-Mart yesterday afternoon to see if the store would donate purple ribbons, as they wanted to make additional ribbons to be distributed at a balloon release later that day. Purple was Jessica's favorite color, and they wanted to keep her memory and her spirit alive.
As they were talking with the manager, one of the ladies turned around, and made eye contact with me...and time stopped for a split second.
...I saw a woman in so much pain, so much sorrow, that I was instantly struck almost to my knees with the weight of it.
What she saw when she saw me...I'm not sure...
Did she see the American Red Cross logo, and instantly connect the Red Cross with times of tragedy and disaster? Perhaps she saw the logo and thought of recovery...or of hope....
Or did she see a mom of a 13-year old daughter herself, who can so relate to this horrific tragedy?
Whatever it was we saw in each other as we stood there, it must have been a magnet...because we then began walking towards each other and were then in each other's arms, while she sobbed on my shoulder.
And that's when I thought..."What do you say to someone who's had a family member savagely murdered? Especially when that family member is a precious little 10-year old girl?"
"I'm so, so sorry," I whispered. "If I knew the words I could say that would make the pain go away, I'd say them...but I don't know the words. All I can say is how so, so sorry I am, and how I wish I could make things better for you and your family."
Because, after it's all said and done, isn't that what it's all about? Don't we strive to make things better for each other?
When people have asked me why I volunteer with the Red Cross, I can never seem to articulate exactly why....but maybe that's what it boils down to...that I want to make things better, for people who have gone through a disaster...or a tragedy....
I hope we can ALL make things better in our world...in our country...even in our own neighborhoods. I hope we make things better in our homes, and in our schools, and our work places....
Life is short, and it can change suddenly on a dime, with a simple act of walking to school....hug your loved ones closer, and make things just a little better.
*Image from HERE