My heart is absolutely broken.
The war in Ukraine has me wondering why I even care to shovel my driveway to go out and live this world where so much hatred exists.
My despair for what I see there is just a hopeless journey of what we feign as empathy... will I do anything about it? I'm not going to travel there to join in as a freedom fighter.
So I sit mouth agape watching my TV screen or looking at articles and photographs online; feeling helpless like I always do. Then I make a social media post hoping that makes me feel better - like I'm doing something to at least make others aware.
But... nope... that didn't help. In fact, it probably jarred someone to politicize some philosophical difference and set up some polarized responses.
That is the world we live in now.
So I try to turn to life I can control at least a little - the world more closely around me.
We live in extraordinarily good times if we choose to see it that way. Here in northwest Pennsylvania, we are blessed where you can you live a good life, you can be left alone and go on day to day just about as safe as you can anywhere in the world.
Then I pick up the local paper.
Swear words abound!
A very disturbing story about a woman who appears to have a suspicious death and was stuffed in a large garbage-can-like drum.
More swear words.
We are an educated civilized democracy and we are beyond such things, I think.
But no. No we are not.
When I first read this story I admit having a somewhat callous reaction. The local paper report was matter of fact and was detailed without emotion - like news stories are supposed to be. The reports mentioned drug paraphernalia or the manufacturing equipment for drugs, so it became easy to judge. A man was arrested on homicide and other drug-related charges. But at this point, it was hard to know about what transpired at the home to this based on available public data.
Then I read further that the woman had children. OK this changes things for me. Even without more information as to whether or not it was careless adults, what did the children do to deserve being involved in this at all?
Over the next couple days more information came out, including the name of the woman who was found dead. And the name was familiar to me. So I looked her up. Then my heart went into my throat.
I had met and spoken with her several times since I began working in Venango County at seven years ago. The first time I met her, she was taking her 2- or 3-year-old daughter to one of the many community events around town.
She indicated to me that despite her lack of money at the time it was important she let her daughter experience as much as she could. The woman was very stoic and stepped back away to let her daughter truly experience what the event had to offer. Every time I'd see her over the next few years she barely cracked a smile other than when she watched her little girl.
Over the last few years I hadn't run across her as much, possibly because I wasn't in Oil City as often. I learned she had two more children and I can only imagine she wanted the same things for them.
I just have not been able to stop thinking about her and her kids.
I still don't know all the circumstances that led to her death but I can say with utmost certainty that her children did not deserve this. Whatever the circumstances, their mother's life was taken from them.
A life that inluded her role as a daughter, a sibling, a community member and... a mom.
Today I woke up to see a post about two Oil City convenience stores being closed from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Further reading I learned it was because this person worked at the store and the store managers closed to honor her memory and ensure her co-workers could show their respects.
My faith in humanity is slightly restored, but why should we have to have to restore faith at all. These poor kids, this poor little girl who must be around 9 now. Why the hell should she have to endure this? The community has set up a GoFundMe account to help take care of these little souls. Not that money fixes anything, but there is now someone else who wasn't expecting to need to care for them while they too are likely grieving.
I know I will miss seeing the look of love from this mother as she watched over her little girl experiencing the joy of life. I truly am sad that I will never witness this again.