I sat down at breakfast this morning with the kids and was working my way through a bowl of Oatmeal Squares as I perused the paper. There was nothing too exciting on the front page, and within a few minutes, I had opened the paper to A3 to see the headline “Decatur Woman Found Stabbed to Death.” I shook my head and I thought to myself, “just what Decatur needs. . . another murder.” I began to read the article to find out what had happened when I saw the name of the murder victim. I sighed deeply and closed my eyes for a second, then read the rest of the article. The murder victim was one of my former students that I had when I taught elementary school.
I suppose it should come as no surprise. Even when this young woman was nine years old, I knew then that she would end up dead or in prison before she had really had a chance to live her life. This young lady never stood a chance. There was no father figure in the picture, and her mother was a crack addict who was in and out of prison for drug and petty theft and burglary charges. Her mother liked to fight and encouraged her children to do the same. She had two younger sisters for whom she carried a good deal of the responsibility of raising - - one of which was mentally disturbed, and the other who was moderately affected by cerebral palsy. As a teacher, I can tell you that there are some students that really register with you - - some that you will never forget as long as you live. For me, this young lady fell into that category. She was fiercely intelligent and witty and had a beguiling sense of humor, but unfortunately, the circumstances of her upbringing had left her angry and belligerent most of the time. She had the ability to be a natural leader among her peers, but she simply had such a short fuse that she alienated most of the young people her age from her. She was the kind of child that had the potential to one day go onto college and be successful - - but as a teacher, I knew that the chance of her overcoming her upbringing and rising above her life’s circumstances were slim to none.
I wish I would have been wrong....but I hope she has found the peace that she never had in her lifetime here on earth.