Monday, February 24, 2014

My Quest

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the death of a local girl. Ann Harrison, who went to my rival high school, was 15 years old, waiting for the bus, when two men who were high on crack stopped where she was waiting, pulled her into their car, and took her to another location, where they raped and stabbed her to death. Just last week in Springfield, a city 2.5 hours from my home, Hailey Owens, 10 years old, was walking home from a friend's house, when a man - a para-professional at her own school - stopped, grabbed her and fled. Witnesses who were present gave chase but to no avail. A few days later, Hailey's body was found. She had been shot in the head. 

While I was reading yesterday morning about Ann, sitting at the breakfast table, having my coffee, my Gavin was telling me some crazy story, as is typical at our house. There are times, I am ashamed to say, that such an interruption would be annoying. But not yesterday. Because at that very moment, it struck me how fragile our life is. How precious. And when I read at the moment he was telling me his story that the two men who were responsible for Ann's death were scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday morning, I was angry. Because those men, besides the fact that they took the Harrisons' precious daughter from them, made sure that when they did, she was alone and afraid. How horrendous. And I thought, what a terrible, terrible thing. Not only for Ann - especially for Ann - but for her parents. I remember the line from Steel Magnolia's when Sally Field's character says of her daughter - "I was there when she came into my life, and I was there when she left, and it was the most precious thing ever." 

As a parent, it is inconceivable to me to fathom that one of my children would die before I do. It makes me sick to think about it. But God forbid if they did, my wish is that I would be there with them, to comfort them and hold them and breathe their last breath with them. To think of them dying alone and afraid is just....too much. 

So as this all whirled through my head, while Gavin was talking, with the paper still in my hands, I started crying. And I made a promise to myself to be a more patient mom. More loving. A mom who doesn't care if someone leaves plops of jelly on the counter, or doesn't make their bed. A mom who tries not to sweat the small stuff. Because there is so much more to sweat out there, and if you're focused on the small stuff that doesn't matter, you're missing the small stuff that does. 

My prayer this week is that God gives me the strength to persevere in my quest to let go. To not get mired in the details and the stuff that doesn't matter. My prayer is for Ann Harrison's parents, who have struggled with guilt and grief for 25 years, and for Hailey Owens' family, who sadly is just beginning their struggle. May they find peace in the small, important details that DO matter. 



Jennifer said...

Thank you Shannan for that post and for reminding me of what is most important today and everyday!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully thoughtful and true.

Carrie said...

Friggin A, Shannan. This is heavy stuff. Glad you wrote about it. Even though I don't know you like BFF status (just pretend I do), you strike me as a patient and loving mom. A real mom who is honest about her shortcomings while having a great time with her kids and, in the end, that is what is going to mean the most to them (and to you). Hugs mama.