This weekend was beautiful.
I had been anticipating the arrival of Saturday since Wednesday when I saw the forecast for 70 degree weather on the evening news. It is that time of year when life and hope start to penetrate your consciousness with their little rays of sunshine that permeate the gray gloom of mood and climate. The early signs of the imminent arrival of spring. It is the time of year for revival.
Friday evening The Little Honey and I wiped the cob webs off of the patio furniture, broke out the charcoal, opened up some wine and started a bonfire, toasting the arrival of deck weather. We giddily chatted with our neighbors as we planned our next day full of activities to keep us occupied outdoors for the entire 24 hours, or so we hoped. In fact, we even considering turning off the cable during the spring and summer in order to keep us outside, appreciating the world, during the entire spring, summer and early fall.
Why watch television when you can be outside experiencing all of Earth's glory?
We began Saturday morning, sitting in the sun, eagerly eating omelets while chatting about our activities. First: Farmers Market. Second: Asian Market. Third: Planting seeds outdoors. Fourth: Sitting outside, eating, drinking and entertaining...... It was destined to be a banner day and we were ready to get it started.
We were not alone.
As we traveled down the main thoroughfare of our neighborhood to our destinations, the streets were bustling with all sorts of activity. Mainly people were out and about, donning pale limbs, while walking the kids and dogs. The neighborhood was awakened from its icy slumber and people were relishing the good fortune of an absolutely exquisite day. Instead of the muted vanilla of winter, the sky was a brilliant blue that hearkened the change of seasons. We were at the end of death, and there was no better evidence than that sky, or the green daffodil and crocus limbs protruding defiantly through the frozen ground. Spring had sprung.
Findlay Market was abuzz with vendors, but more importantly, customers. People basked in the sun, as they sat at the scattered tables and sampled some of their tasty purchases. My favorite find of the day was a cappuccino brownie that The Little Honey and I devoured within three seconds of purchase, which was disappointing... However, the richness of this treat should satiate my chocolate cravings for at least a few days!
We were able to procure all of our needed items at Findlay Market, without having to take a trip about 20 minutes north to the end all, be all of Asian Markets, CAM Asia Market. Normally, I would not hesitate to make the twenty minute trek, but today was too beautiful to spend any unneeded time indoors, so CAM would have to wait for a rainy day.
As we made our way home, I rolled my window down to dangle my arm and hand in the breeze. I felt like a child again as I raised my palm against the force of the wind and then proceed to make the motion of a wavy ocean with my arm... I even requested taking the long way home, through the more rural roads, just to dig the ride for a few minutes more..... Have I mentioned that it was a glorious day?
When we arrived home, we gathered all of our purchases and made our way up the driveway and into the house to put them away... After completing our duties, I grabbed the latest piece on my "To Read" list, The Shack. I have heard nothing but amazing reviews of this book, and though people were raving, I was a bit skeptical. It just sounded a little bit cheesy and goofy, plus describing my relationship with my creator as "tenuous", would be best.
I want to believe, and on many levels I do... But, I am also a product of my DNA, which forces my logic to cloud my faith. When I lost my stepfather five years ago, my faith in God was restored. I relied on God to get me through my grief and to help restore meaning to my life, despite the pain I was feeling. During that time I fell back in love with Mass and the comfort of the sacrament, the feeling of ultimate love that can only come from one person giving their life for the entire human race.
As time has gone on, I have started to question my own faith... A result of bad decisions and bad luck. The shorthand? Selfishness and self pity. I started to wonder if I was just hanging on to these beliefs in order to just get by... If it was all a result of my imagination to comfort myself and to give me meaning within the face of so much loss and tragedy.... I was back on my way to Agnosticism, something that I wrestle with deeply when it comes to faith, and to be honest, I still don't know. I am always curious about God, and though I have my doubts and crisis of faith from time to time, I always keep an open mind.
The Shack is essentially about finding faith and holding onto it in the wake of one's worst nightmare: Losing a child to abduction and murder.
The beauty and excitement of the day kind of turned me away from beginning such a heavy book. I was a bit apprehensive about affecting my mood with such heartbreaking subject matter. I decided that instead of viewing the story within the pages of this book as purely JUST a tragedy, that I would stay committed to the process of the message, and that I would keep an open mind; without letting the book affect my mood.
Though I am not a natural parent, the subject matter of this book still reaches in and grips my soul. As I read the story, I kept picturing little Olivia's (my step-daughter) face, the smell of her hair, and the sound of her laugh. What if this happened to my family? I cannot imagine that fear. That Anxiety. That feeling of so much hopelessness and frustration....The "could a, would a, should a" game that one plays with oneself....."If I had only done this, said this, or stopped this..." I can't imagine that anger, or that grief. It would break me.
As I sat and read this amazing book, on this amazing day, in this beautiful weather, as the sun adoringly shone upon me and the warm tickles of the wind embraced my body; I forgot about all of my problems and for just a few moments, I had not a care in the world. I am so lucky. I have a wonderful partner, wonderful step children, three wonderful nieces, one who was turning 13 the next day, and my life is truly blessed.
As I exalted my good fortune and blessings, four miles away from my home, on a wooded road, my friend's niece decided to go for a jog. She had just turned 13 in January and was excited and appreciative of newly earned freedoms age bestowed upon her, and looked forward to more of these privileges as she would grow up. As she embarked on this seemingly innocuous journey, an activity that everyone has an inherent right to partake in safely and without fear, could her parents have anticipated that she would ultimately be abducted and murdered on such an amazing day?
I have only met Esme Kenney two or three times when she was a preschooler. Her mother was my friend's sister, and quite the amazing artist, as well. I met Esme for the first time when I worked in a local Indian restaurant. I was immediately impressed that this child, who was so young, could have a palette sophisticated enough to enjoy even the most mildest Punjabi cuisine. Plus, what an amazing name.... Esme.... It's just a pleasure to say.
Though I was not close with Esme or her mother, my friend, Esme's uncle, would house-sit for his sister when she and her family would vacation. Their house is located in one the many neighborhoods that I refer to as "secret wilderness" in Cincinnati. There are many neighborhoods that are located smack in the city, yet their surrounding areas are totally rural and wooded. It is a rare treat to have such nature in what is essentially an "urban" neighborhood.
Esme's house is amazing. It is a classic, white-wooden house, tucked back in the woods with an amazing, hilly, ivied, patio and pool. We all loved to go there in the summer time to escape the beating sun and heat, and swim. Her mother's studio was in the back of the house, with many windows that gave the room the feel of a solarium. There was always half finished or almost completed canvases, sewing projects, or other items laying about. Their house was open and airy, with white walls that were adorned with brightly colored paintings along with richly colored furniture and carpets, that added beauty, color, and texture to the room. The motley mix gave the home a pleasant and comforting composition.... It is the only time I have ever seen a bear skin rug as decoration and I liked it!
My tie into this family may seem a little voyeuristic and strange, given I was in their home while they were not there! But, I remember thinking how beautiful this home was. It was not fancy at all, or grand... It was creative, thoughtful, and it seemed to breathe on its own.. It was evident that this was a home to some very amazing people and it pulsated with their energy.
I imagine that house is going through tremendous pain right now, and my heart is heavy and my stomach is knotted in fits of empathy and sorrow for them. I keep having to think positively about the life of this lovely little girl, who as I read more and more about from her friends, was even more beautiful and exquisite in this life, than the sweet, melodic sound of her name. I can't focus my energy elsewhere. I cannot focus on the monster that took her away, nor can I indulge instincts of anger and rage at this person who took her away... This person that maybe God forgot about?
Anger will not bring Esme back. Vengeance will not mend the many hearts that have broken in the wake of this abrupt and tragic absence. Nothing makes sense and only time will numb this pain. It's not fair. It's not fair that monsters walk among us without any tell tale signs. It's not fair that only so much can prevent a tragedy. It is not fair that there is only one very thin line and that safety is never guaranteed. What is most unfair is that we have been robbed of a beautiful soul.
I wish I had answers. I wish I knew. I wish that life would not have to be marred with such tragedy to appreciate the beauty. I wish that there did not have to be justice by way of crime. I wish that Esme would never had to have been scared, or hurt and that she would have grown to be an amazing old woman, surrounded by her children and grand children. I wish I could process this awful tragedy, but I just can't.
My heart is heavy for the Kenney family tonight.
This is Esme's blog: http://www.theesmeshow.blogspot.com/.
She was truly amazing.
Please make a donation in her name to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It is the only thing we can do at this point.