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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tragedy in Our Community: Is there space for compassion?

photograph by Belin Hegfield 2009

Please, if you can, find it in your heart to forgive me if you cannot understand my thoughts and feelings on this topic. I do not mean to offend anyone, or to dishonor the memory of Kimberly Cates or the lives of her loved ones. I realize that my sensibilities may be controversial, particularly in my community.

For those who do not know, a terrible, terrible tragedy occurred late Saturday night/early Sunday morning in Mont Vernon, NH, a small village right next to the one I live in, Amherst, NH.
A senseless murder of a mother in her bed, and the maiming of her 11 year old daughter. Perhaps you will think I am immoral for writing this, for publicly sharing my thoughts and feelings, but last night when I was doing my mantra meditation (which is all about compassion), every time I got to the part: "may all beings be blessed with compassion"...my mind would turn to the little girl Jaime (not much younger than my daughter Rosie), her mother Kim's soul (a woman 2 years younger than me), her husband David (probably around Gordon's age), ...and then each of the four boys, Steven, Christopher, Quinn and William.

I feel so sad and sorry for everyone. Including the boys...who God knows I cannot understand, nor can I even begin to comprehend the distorted thinking or rage that made them do what they did...and yet, I am a mother of a nearly 16 year old child (Belin)...two of the boys are only 17. Two of the boys attended her High School. Truly, they may have adult bodies, but their minds are not nearly fully developed. They too are children: confused, twisted, hurtful, likely hurt-filled children. And so, I found myself offering prayers for them as well...And prayers of compassion for their parents and siblings who must also be experiencing great pain and confusion. I went to sleep thinking of all of them, each beat of my heart, each breath sending kindness, compassion, healing; a wish that they may all someday know joy and peace again.


Like I said, you might think my morals are twisted. I'm not sure that I can qualify my feelings as forgiveness, exactly, but more as spaciousness around compassion toward everyone involved in this despicable crime. When I think of all the angry neighbors and friends who showed up at the court house yesterday shouting at the boys that they were "damned", I can imagine all of their pain, anger, rage toward the 2 boys who committed the murder and the 2 who were perhaps witnesses and some may argue a party to a this heinous crime for not trying to stop it. I feel great compassion for those people shouting outside the courthouse too. Their world, our community, has been turned upside down and inside out. We are all raw from this.


Do I think the two boys who committed the murder should be released from prison someday? I'm not sure if they should ever be granted the right to rejoin society. I worry about the future. I worry about the safety of my family, my community. I do not know the right anwer to this question. I do not believe I am qualified to judge such a thing. I don't know anything about these boys or their lives prior to this event, or if that should even make a difference in making such a judgement.
I did not know the family that was harmed. I only recognize the name of one of the teens; and yet there is a knowing, a recognition of the deep humanity they all possess-the deep humanity that was lost while the act was being perpetrated...and I pray returned when it was over, when the boys realized what they had done. So much pain, so much unnecessary suffering.

This blog entry is in honor of the memory of Kimberly Cates, the mother who was mercilessly murdered in her own bed. In honor of Jaime Cates, the child who was maimed, body, mind, heart and soul and is still healing in Children's Hospital in Boston. In honor of David Cates, the father who was out of town and was helpless to protect his family. And, honor is not the right word, but in memory, perhaps, of the innocence each of the 4 teens left behind that horrible night.

May all beings be blessed with chessed (kindness).
May all beings be blessed with rachamim (compassion).
May all beings be blessed with refuah (healing).

May all beings be blessed with simcha (joy).

May all beings be blessed with shalom (peace).

All Beings.

I just found information about offering donations to help the Cates family:
Donations can be sent to the Kim Cates Memorial Fund at 172 Kinsley St., Nashua, 03061 or to Neighbor 2 Neighbor at the Mont Vernon Town Hall. --- Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.nashuatelegraph.com

3 comments:

  1. I think compassion is always deeply moral. The story is heart-breaking. Blessings to you. It makes me feel safer in this world knowing that people like you go to sleep with blessings for others on your lips.

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  2. Thank you Lisa. I struggled with putting this up...not wanting to offend anyone...but it is what is in my heart and on my mind. A terrible time for the people of our tiny corner of the world.

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  3. bless you for doing this Laura, While our hearts open to the victims, it is important to also hold out the possibility of remorse and repentance for the murderers, and to hope that their families will some day heal from the blow. Your remarks are wise, and took courage.

    be well
    Rachel

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