January 20, 2014

I Never Knew Her but I Think of Her Often

Each weekday I load up the kids in the car and begin the morning carpool.  There's a certain stoplight that catches us occasionally and until a few months ago, I never really paid much mind to that stoplight.  To me it was just another stoplight.  Nothing special.  Until one August morning in 2013.  

As we approached the stoplight, the news of what had happened the night before, only hours earlier, pierced my heart.  The kids asked why there were candles and remnants of police tape scattered about.  I pretended not to hear.  I remember my eyes swelling with tears and blurring my vision as I tried to disguise my disgust with the world from the kids. I heard the news of the murder of a young mother on the morning broadcast, but hadn't thought of the location...nor the fact it was on the very route we take Monday through Friday in the morning carpool...until that stoplight turned red.  Unable to drive past the scene, we sat there for what seemed an eternity, waiting for the light to change.

There was no way to escape the tragedy that unfolded in the early evening the night before.  The horror of the previous night's happening was staring us in our faces as if it wanted to be seen.  As if she wanted us to know.  A quietness fell upon my otherwise noisy carpool full of kids that morning as crime scene officers directed us past the scene.  An eerie feeling as we slowly drove past the crime scene and me, tears falling slowly down my face, feeling as the teenagers say, some kind of way.

I didn't know this woman.

Days passed and slowly the candles and police tape were replaced with makeshift WANTED posters and teddy bears.  Conversations shifted from songs playing on the radio to kids theorizing ways to catch the killer and what they'd do with the reward money whenever we neared the scene.  The kids didn't seem to understand how the local police could have a video of the shooter's truck and not run it through some high tech database and nab the person.  Yet, I just listened.  I never interrupted.  I never said a word.  Yet, as we drove past the intersection my fingers clenched my steering wheel as I breathed deeply praying the kids wouldn't sense my uneasiness.  I could feel the pain of a wandering soul crying for help.  

Sympathetic me, having never known the victim, trying to rationalize why I'd cringe every time we drove past the scene.  Some days it was so bad, I'd drive nearly 10 minutes out of the way to avoid the scene.  Pretending to be oblivious to the kids' questions of "Why are we going this way today?" or "Mommy, are we gonna be late?".  Never once being able to comprehend why the passing of someone I never knew resonated with me so.

I never knew the young lady and tried to rationalize my feelings as being due to the sheer horror of such a violent crime, so random, so close to home.  How?  Who?  Why?  Why!!! Why would someone shoot a person...with a baby in the car.  Now, there's a 31-year old mother dead.  Someone's wife.  Someone's mother.  Someone's daughter.  Someone's somebody.

It's been nearly 6 months and I still get a feeling deep in the pits of my stomach when driving past the makeshift memorial.  Occasionally, the kids ask if the cops ever caught "the guy".  I pretend not to hear.  Yet, I pray the person who shot and killed 31-year old Samantha Cass is found and brought to justice.  This is my silent prayer.  The prayer I pray each school day as it is the only thing that gives me courage to drive past the scene of the crime.  

I look forward to the day I drive past the makeshift memorial no more and when the kids ask me "what happened to all the teddy bears and candles", I can tell the kids the story of how the cops caught the bad guy. 

Find her killer and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.


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