I was originally going to write about this on Saturday, but it was so beautiful outside, I couldn’t bring myself to darken the day. But it’s still on my mind, so here we are.
The mother who killed her son and then kept her dead baby in the plastic tub received a 62 year prison sentence Friday. She got a few extra years for beating her older daughter, a beautiful and precocious 10-year-old.
The judge wondered aloud before passing sentence what damage was done to that girl, how ever will she build something resembling a normal life and view of the world. She watched the crime occur. So did two other children.
This was the second case so far this year in which children witnessed their parents killing or beating soon-to-be-dead children.
It’s chilling when you think about it: how their little brains have been rewired before they even start out, opening the door to struggles most of us can’t even begin to imagine. There are those who will condemn them for those struggles, the choices they will make in the future, the lives they will lead and the situations in which they will find themselves. But I am giving them up to God. He knows where they started out and He will see where they end up.
My brain struggled with the contrast, though, on Sunday when we baptized yet another baby. (We’ve had a baby boom of sorts at church, so it’s been nearly every Sunday for the past few months. It’s cute.) This little girl was so happy, so adorable. She sat, mostly naked in her godmother’s arms, chubby hand stuffed in her grinning mouth while Fr. Andrew anointed her with the blessed oil.
So here we have these two stark realities: a child protected and loved, prayed over from the beginning and hopefully safer within the community of believers of which she is now a part; and then these children in the care of mad people, crazy from anger or drugs or mental illness, who see that which most of us never see and then have to match that reality to the rest of their lives.
I may have to start lighting candles for all these kids. I already light one for my friends on the blog, the ones that fight on. I could turn the back of the church into a forest fire, though, with candles for all the children, living and dead, I’ve written about over my dozen years in this business.
For the ones that died: McKinzie, Jezaih, Ariona, Kweli, Alyssa, Kelsie, the list goes on and on, names I don’t even remember, there have been so many.
For the ones that live: most of those names I never know, the ones that survived, or the siblings of the condemned who saw or heard or knew.
Lord, have mercy.