The Child I Knew

I just want to sit and stare out at the world.

I want to be insulated and quiet.


I can’t find the insulation

Or the quiet.


Often times when I write, here, I do so without telling the back story.  The reason for what I wrote.  The prompt for why I wrote.

Today I am going to write a little differently.

Because sometimes what is behind the words is much more important.

A few days ago one of my children let me know that a child from our past had been murdered.

I had not seen this child, since she was a child.  An older child, but a child, on the cusp of adulthood.  She was in my life for more than a few years as friends to my stepchildren who lived with me.

Since that time she had grown into an adult and lived an adult life.  I hadn’t seen her in, maybe, close to twenty years.   I cannot reconcile that she was an adult, when I only knew a child.  When I think of her, and that’s all I’ve done for three days now, I see her only as the child I knew.

Smiling.  Innocent.  Blonde hair.  So very friendly and kind.  I can’t picture her, in my mind, without that smile.

Now I know a little bit about the past 20 years.  But, though I know it, I cannot imagine it.  I can’t think about it.  Because it doesn’t fit with the picture of that child in my mind.  A grown up?  A person I didn’t know.

I don’t want to be misleading.  I hadn’t thought of her, or known what became of her, for years.  The last time was when I heard her mother had passed away, and that was years ago to my recollection.  My feelings right now are for that child I knew.   I picture her ….then.  And cannot integrate that child into the horror that befell the adult.

I think of her hanging out, going to school, driving around with my stepdaughters.  I can see her in our home.

I cannot put an adult in the horror of that murder.

I put the child I knew in that horror.

And I find myself wanting, continually these last few days, to go back.  When she was safe.  When her sweet young face smiled, all the time.

I keep going back.  Back.  Back.  Back.  To that child.

I’m sure there are better ways to honor her, or pay homage to her than this fumbling of words when I don’t really know what to say or how to say it.

But I want to say something.

I want her to know, she is thought of, fondly.  And sadly.

I would want her to know that these days as I am thinking about her-I am thinking of the child that was alive and well in our lives.  That her smile is a kind and pleasant memory.

I can’t find any insulation from this.  And I can’t find the quiet for my soul.

I might just sit here a while longer.

Thinking about her.

And look for peace.




41 thoughts on “The Child I Knew

  1. Oh, these are terrible messages that makes you sad and thoughtful. You mourn the child you knew and I think that’s right. One should always keep the most beautiful memories of a person, because that was the real person. just because he has become old, frail and grumpy, his nature has not changed. Inside, she was still the same person and maybe even laughing like as she was an adult. The consolation is that the soul of her is preserved and it was not murdered. It will flourish again.


    • Jodi, I’m so sorry for your loss. I think you know how I am feeling. I just can’t picture the adult I “know” she was. I only see that child, still. (Please accept my sympathies for your loss, and his suffering.)


  2. It is important for people of all stages of her life to hold on and remember, MBC. You are playing your small part in making some universal reconciliation after that horrible event. So sorry for you and all who now must reflect.


  3. It is so hard to reconcile the image of a child who comes to violence as an adult. I’m so sorry. The death is bad enough, but murder, something else again. Members of my family have lost friends to suicide, which is also so hard to get my head around…like you, I’ll always remember them as smiling, happy children. I’m glad you shared your inspiration here, Colleen.


  4. In some way, I understand your thought process. I too had a loved one experience a terrible ending…one that no one wants to hold in their memories. I found that by viewing those earlier times it helped me to see a happier loving person and I cherish those early memories. Though the end of her life was truly a nightmare I found peace knowing that she could no longer feel the pain.

    It was really important to me that her real final ending was a peaceful one. We spread her ashes in a grave and layered pictures of those happier times to comfort her and to remind us of the person we knew. We also spread wildflower seeds all around her so that she could be surrounded by the beauty of the flowers, bees and butterflies. On the morning that we put her to rest it rained cats and dogs. Every part of my clothing was drenched. It was as if the heavens were crying with us. As soon as we finished making a heart of stone and placed the flowers on the grave, the rain stopped completely, the sun came out and the birds started to sing. We felt her fly free.

    A lot of time passed from the time I learned of her death until that day…at least it seemed like an eternity but I had to make the ugly go away. And this was how I did it. I know your situation may be different and I hope in time you will find a way to make the ugly go away for when it does, you only feel the warm embrace of the goodness that was there. The memories are still there…but they don’t hurt like they once did. My thoughts are with you and your children during this time.


    • Mrs. P, thank you so much for sharing this. I know there were those so much more connected to her than I was. But for a time, our lives mingled and co-existed. And that all came flooding back. And when it did, I had to acknowledge it. And with that, came the horror I know she went through. I was awake last night and kept replaying her ending. And had to keep focusing back on the child.

      Thank you for your very well received and needed words.


  5. It is so sad and horrifying when we hear of upsetting or life changing things which happen to those we knew well as they were children.
    I cannot give much comfort, nor offer up a similar situation since this Did Not help me when someone who was a sweet, caring child and young person was killed.
    Just know, it is a very sad, life changing experience. It may ultimately make you a new person. This may be your gift to this precious young girl (her memories in your head) of a grown woman who was murdered. hugs xo


  6. I am so sorry for all that surrounds such a sad story, Colleen. I can understand the flood of memories that pull you between the child and the adult, and the violence of murder is an incredible reality, difficult to shake off. It sounds unbelievable, but I have known four murdered women, two of whom I knew from their childhood until their death. One was a good friend of my daughter and had been in my home for years, including a long period of time as one of my piano students. She was murdered by a boyfriend when she was 16, and it was a highly publicized event in our area. This was 25 years ago and it could have been yesterday! The other three were equally dramatic stories–young women I knew reasonably well. I have never really been able to shake the feeling of sadness when I think of them, which is often. I am just sad when I hear of a life cut short. And to think we live in a world where murder is not all that rare. Hugs, Colleen. ox


    • Debra, I’m so very sorry for the loss of those women. I can’t fathom, at all, the brutality that one human can inflict on others. It is so overwhelming to me. When it is done in the “name” of love or jealousy or religion….it beyond my ability to comprehend.

      I feel such sorrow for those who loved them.

      And thank you for sharing, and for understanding.


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