That movie messed me up. A home invasion, rape, and murder of wife and child in the first 90 seconds. Messed me up. I had to get out of bed because I was lying there in grim imagination.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned being at home when my house was broken into by three men. I was quite fortunate. I was able to call the police, and lock myself into a back bedroom, and the one man who had vocalized a desire to take care of me turned and ran when his minions took off. I’ve made it into a funny story because I’m a whistler in the dark, but it was pretty bad.
I think about Adam Walsh a lot. I was ten when he was kidnapped and murdered, and it made a big impact on my mother. It made a big impact on how we did things after that news story broke. Adam’s story has made a big impact on the way I parent.
I’ve had so many weird-bad things happen to me that I hope I’ve taken up all the statistics for my family. There was the molest-y babysitter, the guy who followed a friend and me for two blocks before pulling his car into a driveway to block our path and jumped out masturbating, the jr. high teacher who took a very physical interest in me and always wanted me to ride in his car with him instead of on the bus with the other kids, where he would pet my thigh–thank God he never tried more, the time a relative chased another friend and me in his car, driving up on a curb after us–after another little girl had pointed me out for him while I was trying to walk home (he hadn’t seen me in many years, and wasn’t sure which one I was–thanks, other little girl, you nearly got me killed that day.) There was the carpool driver who threw two other students and me out of the car in a very bad part of town, and the guy who tried to chase us down and force us into his car–honestly, that’s one of the most terrifying things that has ever happened to me, and includes me running almost under an 18-wheeler trying to get away from the man. There was the very ugly domestic violence, the home invasion, the professor who lured me in for an after-hours session and then tried to pounce, and the date rape, and really, don’t you think that’s enough? I think that is enough. I think I’ve done the violent crime–oh wait, I forgot the attempted mugging and the sexual assault at work. Yeah, I think I’ve taken up plenty of cosmic unpleasantness. Enough to cover my family for generations.
But what all that has taught me is that bad things happen to decent people all the damned time. One minute, you’re walking home from school, the next, you’re running down alleys crying and yelling. It happens. Doesn’t matter how much of your own business you are minding.
Jennifer Day was a little girl I met the summer before my freshman year in high school. We were at two orientations together and hit if off like gangbusters. She was a pretty, sweet, outgoing girl, and I was really looking forward to us being friends. She was also abducted and murdered not long after I met her. I’ve thought about her frequently. I’ve thought about her parents.
My mother would have given anything to keep me from having to deal with the situations I faced. Fortunately, my situations never turned dire and she had taught me to think and reason. Keeping a cool head kept me from worse harm. I’m working on that with this little guy, who woke up while I was typing and is now sleeping on my legs, snoring like a buzzsaw.
John and Reve Walsh are heroes for taking Adam’s murder and turning it into a platform for saving children, and catching criminals. I am grateful for them, and people like them, who take the worst trauma and turn it into something to help others. No vigilante justice. No whining. Just work to save other people from facing the same.
My grim imaginings had taken me to a courtroom and I was feeling every bit of the truth that no earthly justice can bring back what is lost. No earthly justice can fix a sociopath’s brain and make him/her regret what they have done. All justice can do is remove an obstacle to another child’s safety.
All we can do is keep a close eye on our kids, and watch out for other people’s. And carry a big stick.