Monday 11 August 2008

The Silence of Violence

Summer should be a time of happy memories for people, especially young people. They are on break from college and/or taking vacations with their friends and family. They should be enjoying Stampede, camping, boating and a whole array of other activities. Those should be the memories of a hot summer in Calgary.

Summer 2008 will be remembered by the young people in my life (my adult children and their friends) and many, many other Calgary youth, as a summer of mourning. They have all been touched by the passing of three young Calgarians.

First was a young man killed in a tragic motorcycle accident. At 18 years old, he was taken way too soon; doing something he had an incredible passion for. Friends and family can take some comfort in knowing he helped others by being an organ donor.

Second was another young man, who put up a valiant battle with health problems. Friends and family can take some comfort in knowing he is now at peace and no longer in pain.

Both of these were tragic and unexpected. The grieving process is fluid and in motion; the pain of losing of each will ebb and flow. Over time cherished memories will take the place of the pain, though it may never be completely be replaced.

The third is Sarah Rae, a young woman with a whole life and world before her yet to explore and discover.

Sarah was taken not by fate of an accident or a battle with a disease. Her life was taken by another person (or persons). I cannot phantom, nor will I claim to know what her family is experiencing. My heart aches at just trying to put myself in their shoes. The thought of losing one of my children (let alone an only child) is unthinkable. My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to them.

This brings me to the silence. Not the silence of her family; that I completely understand and can respect.

It is the silence of the violence that troubles me. No, that is too mild, but short of swearing. It annoys me, it pisses me off, it makes me want to scream, and it makes me want to shake someone until they spit it out.

At least one person knows what happened that night, likely they have “talked” to someone. Perhaps there is more than one person involved, they know what happened. Actually, person is not the right word either. It should be “coward”; at least one or more cowards know what happened.

The crime itself is bad enough; but not admitting to it or coming forward with information is only making a bad situation worse. Only a very selfish coward would not break the silence.

Silence makes everything worse for everyone. It delays the closure for family and friends. It extends the grieving. It creates more questions than answers.

What goes through a cowards head? Clearly they have no sense of responsibility. I guess that goes without saying.

Over two years ago my son and his friends were attacked. A couple of people posted on a web forum they were witnesses. They justified not coming forward by saying “being a rat is worse” or my favourite; “I don’t get involved in things like this….I don’t have time….I am an adult….if it were my kid I would make time”.

I know there are other unsolved beatings; some are far worse. But even they cannot compare to an unsolved murder. Yet cowards feel that bringing the guilty individual(s) to justice is “ratting” and they only care if it is their children.

They have no regard for what the family and friends go through. They do not care that people live with that “unknown”; they do not care that they are multiplying the pain. They do not care if it goes on for days, months or even years; that is the reality of the silence of violence.

I cannot comfort my daughter and her friends; there are no words to bring sense to a violent death. The grieving process will not be fluid and in motion; the pain of loss of each will not ebb and flow. It gets frozen in time and it keeps crashing against the wall of silence.

Ask anyone who went to school with me in Standard, Alberta; they do not remember 1981 as the year we graduated. We remember it as the year 15 year old, Kelly Cook was murdered. To this day Kelly’s murder remains unsolved….27 years! It is haunting and it can be all consuming.

No one, absolutely NO ONE; should to have to wait 27 years, 27 days or 27 minutes for the silence of violence to end.