Friday, January 30, 2015

Tragedy in a Small Town

I live in a small town; a small rural town comprised of resort lodging, magnificent natural wonders, recreational opportunities at every turn.  It is a fairly quiet place with the consistent and necessary ebb and flow of visitors who come to ski, hike, mountain climb, ice climb, golf, fish, canoe and kayak or just breathe clean air.  

During the seventeen years my husband and I have lived here, there have been very few major events of note.  Seven years ago, three people were shot to death in the local Army Navy store during a failed robbery.  That was the biggest news here in over a decade.  Last year, a fourteen year old girl disappeared after school. The hunt was on for nine months despite many believing she was either a runaway or dead.  She turned up last Fall after a harrowing kidnapping, having been held prisoner in a shipping container and sexually assaulted by her 31 year old kidnapper.  But she's alive and her story is one of hope.

This week, a man I knew as an acquaintance due to his close friendship with my good friends, shot his wife then himself.  It's a very old story but the difference is, everyone in our valley knew them in one way or another.  They were "native locals".  They were born and raised here.  They have four children.  They had a twenty seven year long troubled marriage filled with abusive behaviour on both sides.  Alcohol was a problem.  But nothing pointed to this ending. 

People are haunted by this event.  It's not a news event, something you see on TV and can turn off.  It's too close to home.  It undermines everything people think they believe when it comes to their neighbor, friend, family member.  Because, if this guy with whom we have partied, worked, grown up with and known all our lives can do this to his wife and, ultimately, his children, what is there to believe in? 



Mel said...

It's awful, isn't it, when these types of things happen in our seemingly idyllic neighborhoods and towns? Something like this happened here too, several years ago to a couple married 10 years, but it appears the wife shot the husband and then herself, their 6 year old daughter was home but can't or won't remember what happened. It's tragic, the desperate things people who are supposed to love each other can do to each other, but even more unsettling is what darkness can lie beneath such typically normal facades in friends and neighbors. It makes me wonder if you can ever truly trust what you think you know about people.

I hope you are able to put this in a compartment in your mind, like I did with ours. It's in the same corner with the college student who went on a rampage and killed 5 classmates and then himself in our neighboring town.
Sometimes the only thing that helps me is to remember what Mr. Rogers said, that when things get scary remember to look for the helpers. There's always more helpers than bad guys, and that comforts me a little.

California Girl said...

Mel, thank you for your thoughtful comments. My husband, a former social worker, echoes your thoughts about never knowing what lies beneath the facade presented by others. I barely knew the man who killed his wife. What I did know was from social situations and a few offhand remarks by the wife of his best friend. But when I put it in context, imagining it to be someone to who I am close, it really rattles. Don't know if I could accept such a thing.

DJan said...

It's very sad, and I know that if something similar happened right here in Bellingham, to people I know every day, I would also be thrown for a loop. I am so sorry for their children, who will carry this with them forever, long after the neighbors will have laid it down. So very sad. Makes me wonder if any kind of intervention might have kept this from happening. Probably not. :-(

California Girl said...

DJan, not sure if even their closest friends had any idea it could lead to this. I've heard interviews with the women who were friends with the wife. They say she never hinted at abuse.


by Cole Scott