Monday, October 20, 2014

Why

This post was supposed to appear last week and it was supposed to be about our garden, but I got a bit derailed. As I was preparing the photo fest to accompany the garden explanation on Monday, a friend messaged me with awful news. Her boss, his wife, and their daughter had been murdered in their home over the weekend. I had also worked for this family back in 2007 and saw them around town all the time. They were good to me. They were good people. I didn’t know what had happened, but I was certain they didn’t deserve it. For the rest of the day I sat here hitting the refresh button on breaking news pages hoping to learn more.

When we heard the truth a tense couple of days later, we were horrified. The couple’s 19-year-old son had come home from college and shot them. He confessed he wanted money and figured he’d be the sole heir to the estate if they were all dead. Processing this was surprisingly difficult for me. We weren’t super close, but I knew these people: all four of them. We spent a good chunk of time together over the summer I worked at their newspaper. From that vantage point I saw solid parents who provided for and loved their kids, but didn’t spoil them. They were just a good local family.

And I still think of them that way. As more details are released and the public learns about the problems the family had with their son, tongues have started to wag. Ridiculous statements of “Oh, I wasn’t at all surprised,” and “How could they not see the warning signs?” are flowing freely on social media. Accusations of spoiling the children and not being religious enough have been thrown around as well. This behavior sucks. It’s easy to sit back now and say that someone should have done something, but we weren’t behind closed doors with this family. We don’t know what they went through trying to help this kid, and I’m absolutely sure they did try.

Normally when something dreadful happens, I feel better when I know why it happened. For the first time, this isn’t the case. Knowing I’ll never see them again bugs me, especially with the guilt from not realizing what they were dealing with back then. Could I have done something to prevent what happened? Most likely not, but I’ll always wonder. And all the hateful, judgmental blathering of the uninvolved doesn’t help. So, for the social media pundits who have everyone else’s families figured out, I share this advice from my late grandmother.

You’re welcome to think whatever you want. You’re also welcome to keep your mouth shut.
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