I can't write anything about Chelsea King that doesn't feel grotesque. I realize then, that everything held up next to this kind of tragedy is gross. This is why music or religious ceremony can be comforting when horrible things happen; they are enough other-worldly to match the other-wordlyness of something so impossible...that is possible, that did in fact happen. That semi-colon I just used is gross. See? All the normal conceits and necessities and structures of life fall fumbling and failing and short. Everything is a vanity next to raw, unbearable suffering. Everything but love, which is what we try to offer through our fumbling and cliches and poems and cards and civic action. Chelsea's mother, or father, I forget which one- their names are Brent and Kelly- said recently that the love and support they are receiving has been, I paraphrase, literally unbelievable and comforting. I can take the much smaller experiences of my life and hold them to this and find the rule holds: love comforts. The most unbearable times of my life have been when I felt abandoned by all the world, unloved and left behind. Pain is magnified and echoes relentlessly without the buffer of love.
So however fragile and fumbling and flawed my attempts to reach out and love are, I will not stop. Chelsea's murder is not the first horrible tragedy that has moved me this deeply, but I am at a place in my life where I am ready to do something to contribute to lessening these crimes and helping those who are affected. I am starting simple. First I am attending Chelsea's memorial, and a run in her honor. Then I am going to continue the research I started this week and find out what programs exist that could use help in fighting child molestation, assault and murder. And then, I am going to help them.
Although there is no point, I cannot help but imagine and re-imagine the tips of flames that Kelly and Brent are beginning to feel, through whatever numb shock they have been gifted with to protect them from full assault of the reality, which would surely kill a person in their tracks. They have a son, 13 years old, who is left with.... God, you guys. Imagine. I dropped Dakota off at school this morning and saw Chelsea's huge poster, her smiling beautiful young face, full of intelligence, grace and love, and began crying. Trying to be silent about it as Lola sat in the back, her smiling beautiful young face watching the trees go by as we drove to school. One day, my beautiful blonde daughter whose favorite color is also orange, like Chelsea's, will attend the high school Chelsea attended. Every connection is like a live wire attached to your insides that brings a burning and a dread, that circles the enormous, infinity space left behind by a murdered daughter. For one moment, you can feel that circle of hell. The far heat. You think how tonight, Chelsea was supposed to be playing French Horn in a concert. You think of how it will slowly occur to her parents every single thing that Chelsea will never experience again. When her mother eats WonTon soup, she will realize Chelsea will never eat this soup. When her father sees a young blonde girl with a baby he will realize Chelsea never had children, and he will never be the grandfather to her children. From the mundane to the enormous peaks of life, all the moments that must be relenquished mentally and emotionally to loss. To fight the empty tide with the memories of her that were filled with love takes such a momentous and incredible feat of human spirit that it is not possible for everyone. Each battering wave of loss and pain. Like being in labor for the rest of your life. Like never bearing your baby to this world. Like knowing the love and the pain and the loss better than you know your self and never knowing the face and skin and hands to touch and hold.
I would be ashamed if anyone thought this post was an attempt for me to be comforted. I need to talk about it. It is my attempt to try to calm the repetitive thoughts and emotions I have when I see her face again and again all over town and in the news and on my own Facebook page. It is an attempt to even begin to remotely accept that these things really. do. happen. It is an attempt to begin turning over a tiny part of my life toward preventing this from happening.
I want so badly to do something and as I realize what I really want is what everyone really wants and what can never be done. To make her parents hurt less. To make her brother hurt less. To make the pain bearable for them. How? By attending a vigil, sending a card? No, of course there is nothing I can really do for them. So that emotional empathy and love has to go toward the children. The kids that are out there now. The laws that need to be changed. The systems that need to be refined. For the rest of my life I will remember Chelsea, and her family, and she will be in the back of my mind when I am doing anything to advance prevention- writing a letter, attending a rally, passing email. And I pray. Even though I am not religous, I believe in the possibility that prayer has an actual power, so I pray.