This morning, my city is in mourning…because last night, they found the body of eight year old Sandra Cantu.
For ten days, we’ve been hoping and praying she would be found alive. For ten days, we’ve wondered where she was, what could possibly have happened. We’ve speculated and worried and anxiously scanned every small face we passed. We’ve held our own children a little closer, and frankly I’ve noticed a lot fewer kids playing in the front yards of the houses lately.
Because in spite of our wildest hope that somehow this would all turn out to be some kind of misunderstanding…we knew a monster was among us. The same monster that is always there, the monster we protect against with our stern lectures against talking to strangers and going into other people’s houses and how about you just never leave my sight, EVER.
I suppose it is a common thing to say, “This shouldn’t happen here.” Because after all, nobody wants to think they live someplace where it does…and we who have built a nice little illusion of affluence especially don’t like to believe that such things could happen, you know, here.
…it would be counter to the homeowner’s association rules, darling…
No, not here. It happens elsewhere. In dangerous places, gritty dark cities where the sound of sirens and gunshots fill the air. In places where parks are not for children but for drug deals and prostitution, that’s where there be monsters.
Not here, in our little city…where the police blotter is largely full of melodramatic domestic tiffs and drunk neighbors peeing on each other’s petunias.
Not here, where children play in the front yards and wander freely up and down their neighborhood, wandering from house to house in a massive game of tag, following their noses unerringly to the houses where cookies are being baked.
Not here, in a city that somehow has managed to remain a town at heart.
That town’s heart is breaking today. It is embracing her family with shared grief and anguish, the terrible knowledge that we failed this child of our village…that somehow, we didn’t see the monster that walked among us.
It has taken away a part of our hope, our future. It has taken a beautiful child from us, and all the good things her life might have become.
We mourn, and we wait for what we hope is inevitable: The unveiling of this monster. Bring it into the light, let us see it for what it is.
Let it be taken away, and never let it return to stalk another of our children.
It may be cold comfort, but I suppose it is the best we can hope for right now.
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