I came across this report on a web news service this morning. It changed me.
First, shock, then deep sadness, then rising anger. I am writing this in anger.
The report refers to a recent court case following the death of a four year old girl at the hands of her mother and the mothers ‘partner’. I have edited it, leaving out some of the horrific details, but included the child’s name because it seems to me she didn’t receive much recognition or respect in her very short life and she deserves at least to be noticed; to count for something.
So, this is the gist of the report:
“The last time (the grandmother) saw her beloved granddaughter alive, the screaming four-year-old clung to her like a koala and begged not to be returned home.
The next time she saw her, the little girl looked like a swollen, bruised, broken doll.
After Chloe’s life support was turned off, her grandmother held her, whispering how much she was loved, while the girl’s mother and her new partner left the hospital before she was pronounced dead.
(The judge) described as “utterly chilling” the video footage of Chloe opening Christmas presents the month before her death. Chloe was plainly frightened of — and of another person, presumably her mother, the judge said.
(The grandmother) said when she returned Chloe after her last visit, her daughter snatched the crying girl saying she was her child, slammed the door and refused to let the family see Chloe any more. She was now haunted by Chloe screaming that she didn’t want her grandmother to leave.
(The grandmother) said she wanted Chloe to wear a newly-purchased princess outfit at her funeral, but (Chloe’s mother) questioned why, saying “they are only going to burn her”.
Right now I am having to consciously unclench my teeth. Later I will pray. Meanwhile the hollow feeling in my gut is paired with a spiritual emptiness that maybe, hopefully, will be filled some time later.
Sue and I have six grandchildren between us. They are all loved and they are all growing up safe in the arms of their family. I cannot imagine any of them experiencing what Chloe had to endure. Only last week Sue shared with me how lucky they were, being loved and cared for. She reflected that so many other children deal with horrors and unmitigated evil before they even go to school, much less learn to read or write. This morning, I think about that and I feel sick to my soul.
I feel for Chloe’s grandmother; for the feelings of guilt and grief she undoubtedly bears. I feel nothing at all for Chloe’s mother or her ‘partner’. I am angry at what was done to the little girl but I don’t feel that I want to take revenge on them. I just feel nothing for them. They are nothing and are left with nothing. They have destroyed a little girl who was theirs to love and nurture. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Nothing is left for them. Not even pity.
How much evil there is in our world. Some of that evil surfaces when adults claim their ‘right’ to happiness and a new start with a new ‘partner’ (how that word is beginning to disgust me). We have made ourselves the centre of all things, and in the process we have unleashed evil on our children. We have substituted ‘partner’ for spouse. We chase self actualisation at the expense of commitment. All the while reassuring ourselves that our selfishness does no harm. We claim children are resilient (no, they are not). We believe the most important thing is that we ourselves are happy (no, it is not).
So often children pay the price for our selfishness. There are a multitude of children like Chloe, not all of them are dead yet, but all of them in a world of pain and abuse that is not of their making.
I wonder how many other people react as I do when they read such stuff. Chloe is safe now. I choose to believe that God has her safe with him. I think I will begin my prayer by sharing my feelings with God and asking him to help me understand and accept that this stuff happens. I don’t suppose I will ever understand why he allows it to happen.