Forget 2012 doomsday predictions, what my neighborhood went through this past weekend falls under its own category of apocalyptic scenarios. Instead of Halloween preparation revelry, a massive, unexpected and eerily unseasonal winter blizzard descended upon my area like a scene out of a Stephen King novel. The suddenly bleak and wintry skies deposited so much snow that the trees, still laden with fall foliage splintered and broke under their weight, collapsing limbs, telephone poles and power lines across streets, yards and playgrounds.
Activities were curtailed, power grids ceased their hum and the town went quietly dark.
I was sheepishly grateful for the forced halt from the normal life activity because it allowed me an obvious “out” from having to attend a memorial service for the Friedlander family that is still being discussed with shaken heads and hushed tones.
As local clergy it is customary to be a part of community programs of this kind. I had already been given a non-weather related excuse to not participate, when the Rabbi organizing the service declined my offer to sing the 23rd Psalm and should have been grateful I wasn’t required to be there. But I am still so heavily burdened by this entire experience that until now, I’ve remained publicly silent. I wish I could say the media had demonstrated the same mindfulness.
It seems the entire nation is aware of the story: an entire family untimely decimated at the hands of the father, who after bludgeoning his wife, and shooting his two children, ages 8 & 10, shot himself in the head.
To happen “here” in “this neighborhood” and in “our school district” has brought it painfully close to home and for me and my family, it goes deeper than that. The father, whose more commonly known demeanor was of kindness and calm, was named Sam, and when he was in his right mind, before “it” happened, he was my friend – and a man I respected.
No one mourns the wicked, but that statement echoes with a false security. His actions, of course, were easily identifiable and able to be labeled . . . wicked, insane, horrible.
And offering my humble opinion, he was the farthest thing from the “kind of person” one would expect to go postal, though ironically, that is exactly what he did.
So here is the problem. His was not a face of a monster and in scary dreams we need to know the monster is not real and if he is real- he sure as heck can’t look like our friend, neighbor, attorney and friend’s father.
Then, the outraged cries: How did this happen? matter less than what do I tell my children who know this non-monstrous “regular Daddy” face? What do I tell my ten year old sensitive daughter who had planned on inviting the slain daughter, Molly to her birthday party in a couple of months? What do I tell my eight year old Indigo son when he cries at night thinking he should be dead instead of his friend Gregory, who he will not be his little league teammate this spring?
I know what I won’t say.
Unlike the growing compendium of comments on blog sites and our local news sources, I will not sit here casting judgment on the father, Sam’s character, offer opinions as to his state of mental illness (despite it seeming a de facto point) or his financial circumstances that pushed him to the unspeakable acts he apparently committed. I will not come from a place of needing to feel justified in my pain to offer any further insight into his state of Being. There are plenty of others out there right now, who understandably, feel compelled to do so. So if you were looking for a “friend-based” insight into the man called Sam, you won’t read it here.
This is not my place nor my role. And truthfully, it wouldn’t help.
In my experience as a past life regressionist, spiritual counselor and clergy, all I can offer to anyone who is affected by this living nightmare, and especially to my own children, is compassion and a reminder that maybe, just maybe, the take-away of a tragedy of this proportion is that it can serve as a catalyst to remind each of us of our own humanity and blessings.
We do not know why these horrible things happen in life. We do not understand, or are able to absorb this level of pain and tragedy with our very limited human brains and ego constructs.
But we are not supposed to.
What we are supposed to do is remind ourselves by examples that are good or in this case, heinous, that the most important things in a lifetime are love, connection and consciousness. And as a spiritual being having a human experience, there is more to what we, as souls, choose to know, live and co-create than what our ego constructs and physical minds can adequately absorb and process.
An act may be wicked, but the soul never is. And yes, I’ll say it. I don’t believe there are any monsters here, just plenty of victims. But that truth doesn’t help my children sleep at night . . .
This October 31st, our town didn’t have Halloween, but our children are still afraid of something far more real and far more insidious than anything they’ve seen in a Tim Burton film. What haunts them now is, and always will be, a part of their very real life experience and that is the last remaining part of this tragedy; the only thing worth talking about.