I woke up in the middle of the night last night (this morning, really), some part of my being attuned to the emptiness in our eighteen year-old son’s room next door.  Turning on the light I read for a couple hours, reading Saffron Dreams, about a Muslim widow of 9/11, her husband in the towers, the senseless end of a beloved’s life, her trying to make sense of the world in its aftermath.

Around 5:30 am I heard noises, my son and his friend finally arriving home. Unusually he came in the bedroom, white as a sheet.

“What happened? Where have you been?”

He looked a decade older than he did when he left the house hours before, headed to a party ‘for some downtime after that eighty hour work week.’  Our youngest son is taking a gap year and has been working seven days a week for months, saving for college and a future elsewhere. This child has always been sensible, mature for his years.

“Someone got stabbed at the party, I saw him die right in front of me.”

My son’s friend had blood on his clothes.

Someone’s child is gone, just like that.

I know it’s nothing new, murder, death - and the real horror is reserved for the family; my deepest sympathy and internal shock is for this young man’s parents, his family.

But, for my teenage son to have witnessed a murder, death….

I woke up again later this morning, my mind remembering for the first time the day soon after my father died, when I found my mother crying, alone, in her darkened bedroom. She wasn’t crying for herself at that moment, she was crying for my sister, who saw our father die right in front of her. She was seventeen.

In an entirely different situation, I finally understand the tiniest bit of that pain my mother had that moment; pain for her child witnessing the terrible.


That young man gone so fast, so senselessly. Details unknown, other than assailant was caught.

'Why?' whirls around in my brain.


That’s all the words I have at the moment…



Hug your people, folks.



Views: 489

Comment by Anna Herrington on November 10, 2016 at 11:13am

FM, thanks for letting me know you read, comment edited ^^^ - and again, thank you, all of you, for coming by - I wrote this as immediate response to being told the graphic nature of what my son witnessed, while I was still in shock. The murderer was 22 with no priors, mandatory minimum is 25 years for murder, in Oregon. Such a waste of two young lives.

....but I agree with you, about a dose of shocking reality, in certain ways. My kids weren't raised by hovering parents but this youngest did grow up in a sheltered area - he was shocked just driving through Philadelphia last trip -- we have none of the gritty east coast urban reality here, but my other son has seen multiple dead bodies from overdoses laying by the road in one drug-addled town, filled with Vietnam vets and meth heads and healthier but reclusive types who have no access to medical care.... I've seen a dead body due to overdose here in town, there between a church and a bank building....

horrible, life can be.

and so beautiful.

such a dynamic, being on earth.

The woman whose house it was, she and I sat with our babies at the pool together, have commiserated and laughed over our other kids over the years - I named this son the same name as her oldest son, due to her oldest son's beauty and grace as a child.... don't know him as an adult, she and I aren't very close friends, but the ties are there. I really worry for her, too,

but mostly the family who lost a loved one to murder at what was meant to be a simple and fun party.

Comment by Anna Herrington on November 11, 2016 at 5:00pm


I purposefully left out in this story that the killer was a Mexican -- and a transient -- as this has not been the focus of anyone, here in my liberal town that wears the PC badge proudly. This fact is sinking in more slowly, that here, no is thinking of The Group these individuals could be placed in.

He, the killer, was a crazed young adult, an individual, maybe whacked on drugs, maybe a psychopath, maybe insane. No one here is freaking out about The Mexicans in the aftermath of this horror occurring in our small town.

I appreciate that. Very much.

But I find myself thinking, with the election result going as it did, if this exact same murder had happened in the conservative town I lived in before, in Georgia, what would be said about this killing, there?

Justification of the wall?

Finger pointing with "See?"

More wildly inaccurate generalizing about Mexicans?

I am positive those I did know there, all of those I can think of, would have made it clear they identified the killer as one of Those Mexicans (whether from Uruguay or Colombia or Brazil, they are Mexicans, in this former region I lived in), a good reason why we need guns under our pillows, our kids in private schools, a wall built.

FEAR of the OTHER kind of talk.

FEAR, period.

My mother taught me Fear can be dangerous. She was a 4'7" woman, I'm not a whole lot taller. She didn't want me to walk through life in Fear. Not being fearful was one of her clearest lessons to me.

(which might seem ironic if you've read any of my posts about Mom's methods of raising her youngest...)

But my thoughts are with this murder, this election, the FEAR in the air.

The victim was also Jewish.

No one here is raising that fear, either, that The Jews here need to be afraid now... and we are a very strong Jewish community, our town, mostly Jewish with some others mixed in, it usually seems around here and that's not too inaccurate.

I really appreciate, today, that no one, here, is crying Victim of their group, either. There is no finger pointing at ethnicities, religions, The Other.

We are all just still in shock over these individuals.

More details dribble out as parents, others, get on the phone, chat in coffee shops, on walks, at work.

Not one fear have I heard of, or fear for, The Groups involved -- merely sadness over the individuals.

Not even sure my point in this.... as there certainly are times where the focus on a group or label of a group, or the targeting of a group is an accurate description or has good reason for fear.....

but so much more often, it's just individuals, when terrible things happen.

It's important to remember.

If only we could be aware, or at least we go there first, to the Individual rather than The Group in looking for reasoning when terrible events occur -- without the tendency too many of us have, to apply this too-often-inaccurate laying over of generalizations that blame/label the All - first. or instead.

Do you say White People?

Do you think The Blacks?

The Mexicans?

The Catholics? The Hippies, even? (do you realize how wildly different even hippies can be from one to another?? Many subsets - many.)

Do you think exactly like your sibling, or parent, or absolutely every other human in your 'group,' your race, gender, religion? 

The Asian, The Jew,

'Women' all are like This.

'Men' all do That.

Black Women.

White Men/The White Man.

It promotes this plague of intolerance and hatred, of the Other, when we do this, I think. When any of us do. We are subject to principles of fractal growth in this world, I believe our thoughts are, too.

Microcosm, macrocosm.

Do you label?  Are you labelled....

before you are seen, 

too often instead of being seen,

as.... You?

Just some thoughts, dealing with the aftermath of this murder and this election, all mixed in together, jumbled up, in my mind.

Comment by Julie Johnson on November 11, 2016 at 7:00pm


Reading around tonight, and sort of jumbled up feeling also.  I started losing my words almost a year ago, I can see it in my blogs. I like what FM has to say above.  In fact the very morning I read your post and the other comments also, I had been thinking to myself how many people I have been around that have died, and my first memories being of my dad and my grandpa and my uncles all hunters, and the deer hanging from the barn rafters with their tongues sticking out. Death.  Yet it also meant life, because I loved the taste of that spicy blood sausage.  Life, and Death and Growing things...

Like you say, the labels. 

Comment by Anna Herrington on November 11, 2016 at 7:11pm

Hey Julie  : )  I wondered if this late comment would just disappear.... but it is part and parcel of it all and now all tangled into the election, a week later, somehow. walls. Mexicans. Fear. I thought of making it a post, but didn't. so far.

I love all the jokes going around by comedians/comediennes about pot now getting legalized so many places is just in time. ha!

Everything else is a mess, that's for sure.

.....avoiding making dinner, over here. I spend hours daily making meals, I'm just that much over it, this evening : )

Labels. I both sigh and growl.

Comment by Carole Dixon on November 12, 2016 at 11:37am

Anna, not being in town, anymore I have heard very little about it. Thanks for discussing it, especially the way the town is processing this. Much love and light to you as your family supports your son in this terrible rite of passage. And to those who lost their child... I came here to see how my friends here are processing the election and I expected this post was about that. Instead it is a much deeper post demonstrating how Americans lives are changing and how our lives are slowly and quickly beginning to look war torn. 

Next time I see you, I will show you two very simple techniques for dealing with PTSD, if you are interested.

Comment by Anna Herrington on November 13, 2016 at 1:00pm

Hey! yes, proud of our town for not freaking out about The Mexicans, even when *one* came along and murdered somebody here. very proud.

I wanted to include how the town is processing this - and isn't processing this - even thought of making the comment a post, but.... didn't bother.

Saw my friend yesterday, she said the service for Avi was packed to overflowing with all his friends, family, townfolk. We were out of town, but, so glad to know he got a beautiful send off and his parents got to see he was really loved by his friends.

Heard even more details.


My son finally remarks he'd talked with the killer for half an hour, earlier in the evening.... that freaked him out, how dead in the eyes he thought the guy was before. Then this happens.

When you eventually pick your head up (ha!), let me know when you're coming down this way  : )

Comment by Julie Johnson on November 18, 2016 at 5:27am

Re read and thinking about...

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 29, 2017 at 10:01am

Someone’s child is gone, just like that.

Hug your people, folks.

That’s all the words I have at the moment…

Thank goodness it wasn't a Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, Anna, and I'm quoting your eloquence to alleviate near overwhelming grief in order to acknowledge bravery and senseless loss attempting to define the (whatisitsoulesshate) of the very mentally ill who lurk and 'backlash' with diabolical inhumane horrific violence. SE WI was afflicted with a cruel spontaneous knifing right in a school cafeteria of late (yeah sure, kids, see ya'll in September) and yesterday morning there was a horrific mass shooting in MS; and the vid of the perpetrator's tirade evidences the raw, courageous fortitude of our protectors.

It's my understanding that the great James Gandolfini's PTSD work is seminal.  Sincere condolences. Godspeed to all the families. 


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