There are some stories that forever change your life.
These are the events wherein you will never forget where you were when you first heard them—the exact moment and feelings, the very sense and even the way the light reflects in your eyes.
The kidnappings of the three girls in Ohio is one such story.
At that very moment, I had been with my own daughters and enjoying their innocence and laughter on a warm and lofty spring afternoon.
But the mood quickly turned into a heavy, looming and hideous gulf of despair and fear.
The feeling that gripped my home and the nation was one of utter shock, horror and disbelief that such unspeakable and unimaginable evil could exist.
Played out like someone else’s nightmare on live television, I continued to watch as if I had a responsibility to these girls who were now grown women, who could have been anyone else’s daughters, sisters, friends or neighbors.
As a child, I recall my parents telling me numerous times how they would “never be able to forget” exactly where they were and how they were feeling when President John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King were shot and killed.
They used to get faraway looks in their eyes as they spoke about these assassinations, as if they were right back in the very time and place when they first heard the news. Oh boy.
In no way am I suggesting that these three girls reign supreme like a Kennedy or a King.
But rather, that this story is the one that has changed my life.
It is not right or wrong, or one to be argued or pontificated about; it is simply the way that I feel.
It has changed me, changed me deeply.
As a mother of daughters, and as one of three sisters, and as a woman who feels the bond of other women, I feel somehow as if we have lost our innocence, never to return.
And while I also see it as my supreme responsibility to protect the innocence of my girls and never tell them about the detailed horrors, as no child or adult should be expected to endure such horrific and mature information, I feel as this story has changed who I am.
As I write this, the sun is floating down on the water by the bay where I live.
I hear a few cars, some boats and the distant train of every eve in the distance.
I also hear the faint sounds of my daughters singing in their rooms—the joyous young and fair-minded songs of childhood’s winsome thoughts.
This is a story I will never forget, but I will be steadfast and earnest in my quest to find the innocence I have lost over the past two days.
This I owe to my babes and to myself.
But again, I will never forget where I was when I heard this story more frightening than any Grimm’s fairy tale that used to keep me up at night when I read.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel