I’m looking up at the sky. How many stars can I see in the night? Dozens? Hundreds? A thousand upon a thousand?
And if every star in the sky were the dim tears of an angel’s cries… the thought that another young soul would lose their only chance to live a full and complete life, to experience adulthood and parenthood and grandparenthood…
All taken away by madness. All tossed aside because a parent or a caregiver made an unthinkable, unconscionable, horrifying decision. And then, after that decision was made… then came the coverup. A pair of bandits with ski masks. A vagrant carjacked my vehicle with my baby still inside. All I did was shake the baby to make him stop crying, I didn’t realize I shook him so hard. We were only trying to please the Slender Man.
I keep thinking about those stars in the sky. How many times, as a child, did I look out the window of our mobile home, wondering if those stars were the tears of angels, crying over the children who could not defend themselves against the abusers and the bullies and the tyrants.
And the abusers and the bullies and the tyrants used all the excuses in the world. I was drunk and didn’t realize what I had done. I was overtired and I just wanted the kid to shut the hell up. This was how I was brought up and I turned out okay. The kid just needs some tough love. I forgot to take my medicine and I wasn’t myself.
And even after all that… it might be too late. Even if someone is able to survive the horrible beatings and assaults and violations… their lives are never the same. Their souls are damaged. Their hearts are wrecked. It’s as if they survived a mortar blast. Post-traumatic stress disorder without ever having to enlist. Familial conscription.
And the angels cried from heaven.
I know these names. Lisa Steinberg. Xstacy Garcia. Kali Ann Poulton. Todd Preville, Jr. Tami Lynne Tinning and her brothers and sisters. David Smith and Alexander Smith. And now Kenneth White. And a family in Cairns, Australia. And more than a hundred schoolchildren in Pakistan.
I know the names. I shouldn’t know the names. I shouldn’t know them for anything other than being children whose lives were cut short in madness. Families torn apart. Little white caskets at a hastily-arranged memorial service.
And the angels cried from heaven.
There were nights, when I was a child, that I wondered if the angels saw the abuse I went through and asked God to intervene. Or maybe God was busy trying to intervene for someone whose was in more danger. I don’t know. I gave up on trying to figure out God’s motives. They make no sense to me. They never will.
Last night, I did what many people around the Capital District did. We lit a candle in the window. We turned on a porch light and let it glow all evening. We will do it again all weekend, in memory of a young boy who never got a chance to experience another Christmas, or another day of kindergarten, or another sunrise or another snowfall or another birthday or another rainy day or another day.
And we hope that someone out there will get the message that child abuse and child endangerment has to stop. Taking frustrations out on the most defenseless, innocent, unprotected children is worse than anything.
And in this holiday season… or in any day… if there’s one thing I could ask… is that we find a way to end child abuse and infanticide. We end the excuses now. We find help. We offer support. We put aside judgment and offer assistance. We don’t treat Child Protective Services as some sort of monster that comes and rips children away from families for the tiniest of reasons. We don’t treat support groups as some sort of admission of awful parenting. We look towards protecting children, rather than perfecting cover stories of what happened to children.
I don’t want another candlelight vigil.
Because another candlelight vigil means that another young soul was taken to Glory.
And another candlelight vigil means that the angels are crying once more.