Grieving
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Politics and Activism

Grieving

An Ode to Madyson “Maddy” Jordan Middleton

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Grieving

I stared off into the ocean today while trying to gather my thoughts. You see, I come from a town that, like any other, has it's pros and cons. On one hand, we're so incredibly weird, diverse, and a little crazy—but we're accepting. On the other, we're plagued by heroin cartels, violent crimes. and every evil under the sun. The kind of evil that evokes a visceral emotion of hatred, one that makes even the gentlest of people want to see retribution.

This last week, there was a tragedy that took place in my home town of Santa Cruz, California. An eight year old girl was murdered by a 15 year old boy. I won't go into detail, as the brutality is not something the average viewer is probably looking for, but if you google "Santa Cruz Maddy," you will find exactly what I'm talking about.

Ever since this has happened, I've noticed one major trend come up, and I can't really blame people for it, but it makes me a bit uncomfortable: soapboxing. From people needing to be more careful with their children to death penalty needing to be brought to California, to the necessity of mental healthcare being more readily available to all, to horribly (misinformed) racial comments.

Thinking about it while staring into the deep blue made me realize something though: everyone is just trying to make sense of what happened. If we had better healthcare, the boy might have acted differently. If we had better parents, kids might not be exposed to this sort of danger. But in solemn thought, I came to the conclusion that it was all vanity in this moment. Most of these things had truth to them, but none of it was going to bring the little girl back to her parents. It wasn't going to undo whatever twisted the boy into the man that he became.

We try to find solace in our rationalizations. We all search for closure thinking it will lead to some sort of comfort. We run from the pain because it seems too much to bear. It's one thing when an adults life ends short, but there's something about a child that is especially gut wrenching. And these painful contortions demand an answer, a solution.

But there is none. There's no way to undo the past and there's no way to make things right. Retribution only breeds more agony, exoneration more misery, apathy, and despair. It's times like these when we have to come together and grieve. Not a word uttered, merely just being present and sitting in the tragedy that has taken place as a community. Allowing ourselves to feel the overwhelming guilt of hindsight bias.

A time will come where a community must take a stand to reclaim what's good: a time to reason and figure out what "good" is; a time to discover compassion, justice, and how to care for the poor in every possible way. But now it is the time for grieving. Take some time to meditate on the horror, then take some time to hold the people you love most close and tell them how much you love them. Tomorrow is not promised and each breath could be our last. Make them worth something. This life is more than being happy, whether or not we want it to be, and sometimes chasing happiness is just not the correct avenue to take.

As I sat on that rock, looking out, the intellect was silenced and all that was left was a visceral hatred: a broken heart. As a Christian, I could rattle off a philosophical explanation for evil, and probably a few other things while I'm at it, but they're all meaningless. A quote from C.S. Lewis came to mind:

“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.”
- A Grief Observed

I urge everyone and anyone reading this, if you or if you know someone who is contemplating something horrible, get help. I truly believe people don't come into this life wanting to be monsters and it doesn't have to be that way.

After reading a quote from Maddy's mother though, I could not help but also remember this:

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” - A Grief Observed

The quote her mother said was this:

“My daughter was sacrificed, but she didn’t die in vain,” she said. “So much good is coming from her death.”[1]

I suppose, in the midst of all the horror surrounding this, perhaps there is hope.


[1] http://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Mothers-o...

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