I guess I have a stronger sense of community than I thought. I didn't know this girl. I didn't know her mother. I didn't know the boy they arrested. I've never been to the Tannery. I spent all morning being sort of empty and depressed on the couch. And then I was about to pull myself out of the house, challenging myself to be outside, but instead I fell onto the bed in tears and then slept for... hours. The entire afternoon. Now I just feel numb and have a splitting headache.
I don't want to go outside and look people from my town in the eye because I know we're all thinking about it.
I followed the case all day yesterday. Yesterday morning I awoke to find a thing on Facebook telling people to keep their eyes open for Madyson. I followed the case all day and when I went outside I stared into the back seats of cars. She had been missing since the night before. In the back of my mind I was thinking that she might be dead, but I didn't want that to be a possibility. I couldn't. There were posters everywhere. I imagined what it would be like to find her (alive) myself. I played out this scene in my head where I found her and kept her safe and called 911 and everything turned out okay. But it didn't.
I don't understand how this could have happened. No one thinks that they're going to have this happen. No one thinks that they're going to be the next person to become famous for their child going missing or getting murdered or both. One day everything is just normal and then it's just not. I remember the panicked tone in my mom's voice when I used to hide from her in clothing stores. I used to hide inside the circular racks of dresses and felt comforted in there. I thought it was funny how worried she was. I don't anymore. But everyone just assumes that their kid has just run off for a second or is hiding or found a friend to play with. That's what her mother thought. She didn't assume that, but she thought it. In reality there was nothing she could do.
A few years ago, one of my best friends was diagnosed with a chronic illness. She had been battling health problems for about a year before that before she was finally diagnosed. One thing I've learned through being part of her support network is what support isn't. I've felt the instinctive pull to find the good side to a terrible thing that happened. "At least it's not XYZ". My friend's illness causes her to be in pain all the time, and it's exacerbated by things she eats so her diet is extremely limited. She is an amazing cook and baker and she loves food. It's part of her identity. And now she can barely eat anything. She told me that people have told her that now she'll be more appreciative of the times when she does get to "cheat" on her diet, the times when she decides that it's worth the pain for a single bite of chocolate. And she just thinks "fuck you" because she already was very appreciative (which I can very much attest to). The reality is that there isn't anything good in her situation. It's changed her life. It just sucks. People who support people want to look for the good in terrible things, and when there isn't anything, we don't know what to do. I've learned to listen to my friend and I've learned to tell her "That really fucking sucks" over and over again and leave it at that. I have to be okay with things not being okay because that's her reality.
There is no good to this situation. We were all hoping Madyson would be found alive. She was not. After that, we were hoping that she didn't suffer any sexual abuse. She might have. It's unclear right now. My instincts are telling me "At least they caught the guy", as if that brings any good to this situation. Or "At least they found her body", as if that did. It does not. None of it does. This is not an okay thing to have happened.
I think that many people who support the death penalty do so because it's their way of feeling okay when a terrible thing happens. They take their pain and sadness and confusion and translate it into anger. "I HOPE YOU FRY MOTHERFUCKER." As if that does a damn thing to stop the terrible thing that happened.
And I think that people so often pull the "This just doesn't happen in this town" line because it's too awful to think that it could happen. To anyone. Anywhere. To be fair, no one that I've seen has pulled that line in this case. This does happen in this town. In my first year, a woman who was well known and respected in the community was stabbed to death in broad daylight at noon on a busy street. In my second year, some methhead killed two cops who were also well known and respected. We get a smattering of gang violence every now and again. Last year, two women were shot at 8 pm outside a very popular bar, although none were killed. This kind of thing does happen. But usually when they happen, the perpetrators are drifters or methheads or gang members. In this case, it was a 15 year old boy who lived in her apartment building. It was her neighbor. It was someone she trusted, or at least someone she had no reason not to trust. Her mother said that they had been working on independence and trust lately, which is exactly what should be happening at around 8 years old.
I saw a video interview with the mother before they knew that her daughter had been killed, and it pissed me off so deeply because it was clear that the reporter was fishing for some way to blame it on the daughter. "Did she ever run off before?" "Does she have a history of talking to strangers?" etc. The mother said no to every question. And towards the end of the interview, she just interrupts the reporter and insists that her daughter has never done anything of the sort, nothing that would make her suspect that her daughter had done anything wrong. I wholeheartedly disagree with victim blaming, and I think that there has been some victim blaming going on (even 8 year old victims are not immune), but to a certain extent I understand where it comes from. People want to find some reason that the victim might be to blame because the alternative possibility, that this could happen to anyone at any time for no predicted or preventable reason, is just too terrible to comprehend.
And sometimes I understand why people believe in a god or an afterlife. I am an atheist, always have been, and yet in moments of crisis I like to pretend. I remember coming back from Italy the second time and hitting the worst turbulence I have ever experienced when we crossed the coast of Canada. My best friend's father had just died earlier that day. And I prayed. I straight up put my hands together and prayed to actual god. Because I felt helpless. I was sitting in my seat with my seatbelt on and there was nothing I could do to help the situation, so I prayed, just in case, because it helped me feel like I was in some sort of control.
To Madyson, if you're out there, if there is an afterlife, please know that you did nothing wrong. You had no reason not to trust your neighbor. The whole town is thinking of you. I am so, so so so sorry that this happened to you.
To Laura Jordan, I really hope that at no point during this terrible thing that happened do you blame yourself for what happened. Please do not blame yourself for not watching your daughter as she played outside her home. There is no reason to think you should have been watching her. It was light out and it was a popular spot to be. It's a community. If any child should be safe playing alone, it's in a place like that where they're not truly alone. Please do not blame yourself for working on independence and trust with your daughter. Those are two extremely important traits for a child to develop. Please do not blame yourself for anything. I am so, so so so sorry that this happened to you.
To the sick bastard who did this: Fuck you. FUCK. YOU. You are a worthless piece of shit. You singlehandedly tore apart a family and a community. It is unclear at this point whether you have any sort of mental illness, but to be honest I don't really give a shit if you do or not, because clearly you're well enough to have some independence in your community, and with that independence comes the responsibility to not do terrible things like murdering children. I feel so sorry for your mother and I hope that no one blames her for what you did because YOU DID IT. Not her. You murdered your 8 YEAR OLD NEIGHBOR. You took advantage of a child's trust in you and you abused that in the worst way possible. I hope you rot in jail for the rest of your life. I hope they don't give you the death penalty. I hope you're tried as an adult and they give you life in prison and that you regret what you did immediately -- I hope you already feel full remorse for what you did -- and you have to live the rest of the life with the gut wrenching agony of what you did.