front page of the paper of record
(nttmcb--nods to the mill city boys) is a brutal and gory description of a relationship gone bad, where, it would appear, (and i'm just speculating here, but i'll be happy to wager anyone on the eventual conclusions drawn from the proper police investigation), a 19 year old girl (yes, she's a young woman, but to a father, and i have no doubt whatsoever to HER father, she's just a young girl) died at the hands of a mortally violent boyfriend.
as a quick review, i'll point readers back to my open letter to those contemplating lethal domestic violence
that carries my full opinion on the self-evident cowardice intrinsic in such an act. but, most of all this morning, i'm dumbfounded by the implications to me as i struggle to find the right way to raise a young girl who is destined to be, just like allison would have been destined to be but for those few short hours ago, an extremely accomplished, intelligent, beautiful and promising young woman.
i had a conversation with a worldly-wise and well-life-experienced woman this morning during which she repeated the standard admonition and observation that women, especially for their relatively smaller stature and lesser physical power, must always be "more careful" around men, but i wonder about two things related to such an opinion.
first of all, what really is "more careful"? she herself had been the victim of some pretty heinous physical violence in her life, yet she was also giving herself credit for judgment that has kept her, in her opinion, ultimately saved from winding up as a similar newspaper headline. i can only think to myself, especially in light of her experience of having been actually hit by lightning, that concluding from a coincidence that one has never won the lottery that one will never win the lottery denies the truth that, for better, in the case of the lottery, or worse, in the case of girls/women like allison and their new "boyfriends", once you hold that ticket in your hand, anything can happen. allison's ticket just happened to be named robert...
second of all, given that "careful enough" is quite clearly here more careful than "careful", and quite likely, observing the past observation about lightning and lottery tickets, even more careful than "more careful" on certain occasions, what does a father do to help his daughter grow up to enjoy her full life? i know teenagers well enough from having been one (not to mention raising two before her) that "don't" might as well be "do" when it comes to parental advice. it's most heart-rending of all for me to read the words of allison's family that "despite all our efforts, we were unable to convince alli of the danger she was in". i know they will always be in a state of acute anguish for the rest of their lives about it, and though i can not even fathom the first thing about what that anguish might be like, i feel the possibility of it in my gut this morning like a living thing, and i know i have to figure out what it is that i'm going to do, lest i be left with no possible way to live with myself in the case that the not-nearly-as-rare-as lightning of horrible tragedy finds its way to my family's door. (imagine allison's family's anguish had they not even said what they had to her before this happened...)
i know i must tell my daughter in ways that are useful to her that such cowards are mortally dangerous people, in addition to being merely dangerous people who will abuse and take without regard for anything but themselves in the name of their obsession. the yellow and craven selfishnesses will grow beyond all reason and bounds if they are let to, and all that my daughter's accomplishments, intelligence, beauty and promise will buy her are yet more tickets to increase that chance.
i know how it is--the smarter you are (or think you are) the surer you will be brought down by your own hubris to learn the truth about the way this world works.
i'm brought back to something i read in the bible, (that i will also point out is usefully found elsewhere lest we be giving too much credit to one philosophy/dogma over another), that one can know a tree by its fruits. i can recall my own brush with the ping pong balls of fate and having that moment of enlightenment, when i could finally add up all the negative things that had been brought into my life owing to my association with a certain person, (someone i met long before my ex, and let's be clear there's a huge gulf between divorce and "tried and tried but just can't ultimately find a way to live with" and "might possibly gonna kill or be killed by", and i'll tell you and the whole world right here and now i will always love my ex and never hold her to blame for any of my mistakes, but that's another long story that has nothing to do with this, or the crazy bitch we're talking about here), and see them for what they truly were--the fruits of the tree of that relationship...
a kiss to my ex for my children, and another to the forehead of a girl for whom i would give the entire contents of my world, and will at the end of my days. (provided she agrees to share them with her brothers--this isn't a gender thing).
if you have been brought down by your feelings towards, and, even more, the actions of, another, take another look at them, yourself, and that relationship. i've been divorced, and i'll still tell you that life it not intended to be that bad, or that hard. life is truly wonderful when you let it be, which is to say, when you do not interrupt that goodness with a perverse insistence to heap it full of someone who is ultimately toxic to you. but you must first WALK AWAY. no, not just "walk away" and then drunk-dial them again when you're feeling low, or hold a secret torch that wakes you up and night and makes you eat too many cookies from the bag of mint milanos you know you really ought to be putting down... no, you know you need to just walk away. walk away. as in, away. away from them and the part of you that can't allow itself to be happy, so insists upon staying with them. no, walk away and then TOWARDS something better, if if that better something is just yourself, secure in the knowledge that you deserve better.
because you do.
i know my daughter does.
i know more than ever i'm going to have to do all i can to show it...