The last month has been one of incomprehensible heartbreak.
A father in South Carolina is charged with killing his five children — 1-year-old Elaine Marie, 2-year-old Gabriel, 6-year-old Nahtahn, 7-year-old Elias and 8-year-old Merah Grace. Authorities say after taking their young lives he bagged them up individually in garbage sacks and drove through several states with their bodies decomposing in the back of his truck before dumping them on the side of a highway, just a few hours north of here, in rural Wilcox County, Ala. When authorities pulled him over they reportedly found bloodied children’s clothing and maggots in his car. He eventually led them to their bodies.
Closer to home, a beautiful 8-year-old girl named Hiawayi Robinson was reported missing last week. She was last seen wearing a green Hello Kitty shirt and purple shorts and walking from her apartment to another relative’s in Prichard. As word of her disappearance spread, her community came together to search for her.
Images of her from the surveillance footage of a nearby convenience store would eventually surface. She was buying candy. A few days later, volunteers found what they were praying they would not — her lifeless body in a pile of garbage in a field close to where she went missing. Discarded like trash. Authorities have said the cause of death is homicide but have released little else concerning who could have done such a thing to this innocent child.
It’s impossible to make sense out of the senseless.
You almost want that South Carolina father to be insane — a stark raving mad lunatic out of his mind. You want to know who could possibly do something so horrible to an innocent 8-year-old girl. You want to just be able to have some understanding and be able to answer the question, “Why?”
But there really is no acceptable answer, is there? There is no “explanation” of any sort that will make any of us feel better about this.
All we can try to do is find light in the darkness. And there has been some.
People have rallied around the Robinson family. Christian Benevolent Funeral Home generously donated Hiawayi’s burial services. Thousands of dollars in donations have poured in to help support the family. People have left teddy bears and purple ponies and Hello Kitty balloons at the site off Rebel Road where her body was found. There are talks of turning the area into a park and volunteers came out with lawn mowers and trash bags to clean it up. A tree is being planted in her honor at her school this week on what would have been her ninth birthday.
And I’m sure similar acts of kindness are taking place in South Carolina, as that community tries to cope with losing five young and precious souls.
These children will forever live on in their communities in some way. And these small acts are really the only things we can do to get through these horrific tragedies. But still, somehow it just doesn’t seem like enough. Nothing does. Not even bringing the monsters who did this to justice seems like it will make everything right in the world again. And it won’t, but it will certainly help.
Until that time, all we can do is pray for the families of these victims and hope they can find peace and comfort somehow, someway. I have no idea how they even begin to do that.
I know I have held my own kids closer lately. Suddenly, seeing Legos and baby dolls scattered all over the floor doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. I’m almost thankful for that big pile of dirty laundry in which I can never get to the bottom. And yes, I will gladly watch “Frozen” for the 3,000th time with you.
There is no way we can ever make sense of these senseless acts.
But perhaps it can make us all pause for a moment and remember what is really important in this world. And how quickly it can all be taken away.
Our thoughts and prayers remain with these families.