Thursday, January 10, 2008

So Much for the New Year

For the past several days I have been haunted by the story of the young woman murdered in the mountains of Northeast Georgia. I see little tv here at seminary, so what I know I have picked up from the internet -- a young, strong, experienced, and defensively trained hiker out with her dog, killed by a blow to the head; the alleged perpetrator a drifter who may be responsible for similar deaths elsewhere.

I - neither young, strong, defensively trained, nor in possession of a large dog -- have spent a considerable amount of time hiking in the mountains of western North Carolina (and many other locales), often by myself, sometimes with one of my then-teen-aged children. I have always been aware of the dangers, especially when I am alone, but the joy in pursuing a narrow trail through the Pisgah Forest or standing in the open meadows of Graveyard Fields or playing in a waterfall has overcome whatever sense of caution I might have felt. The Lovely Daughter has talked of returning to her camp counseling job in North Carolina next summer, which would require a trip down there and offer an opportunity to hike in the mountains.

Perhaps no more. I am heartbroken for the young woman and her family, and angered for all of us who derive such sustenance from our time alone in the wild.

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Closer to home, one of our sons, still living in his college city, was robbed and beaten up by three men Saturday night when he stepped outside a bar to make a phone call. I don't doubt that he could have been making better choices about his activities and movements that night, and I'm grateful that the only visible damage consists of cuts and bruises, broken glasses, and the stolen phone, cash, and credit card, but I am horrified and terrified by thoughts of what might have been. Where, I want to know, were his friends? He says that by the time he got himself up and re-oriented, the bar was closed and they had given up looking for him; he found a police cruiser to take him home. All the more frightening, to realize that, having been attacked by people with no regard for anything, he might have been abandoned in much worse shape in a deserted area of the city.

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The Lovely Daughter leaves for London and Prague on Wednesday and her roommate's visa has not arrived. I would have been concerned about her travelling alone anyway, but my anxiety level has skyrocketed.

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I am writing a paper and studying for four midterms next week. Needless to say, I am somewhat preoccupied.

12 comments:

Carol said...

Oh, GG. You need some hugs and some reassurance that the world has not gone totally mad. I am so sorry that you're in such a rough spot right now. Please take the time to reflect, as you do so well, on all the good around us. I'm sending healing thoughts to your son, safe travel wishes to your daughter, and breathing room for you. Be good to yourself.

Kathryn J said...

I am glad to hear that ds is shaken but OK. That is the story that scares me.

Unfortunately, I've been afraid to hike or walk alone in isolated areas for years. No specific incident but several times the hair on my neck has stood straight up due to an unexpected encounter with a stranger who made me wary.

The only thing that helps me is perspective - think numbers. It's scary to send the lovely daughter off but you don't hear of the thousands of kids who leave for and come back from abroad every day safely.

I'm really no help at all, am I? Your children are smart, savvy, and capable. As always, I will hope and pray for the best for them.

Presbyterian Gal said...

((((((GG)))))) Very scary stuff. I'm glad your son is all right and you know what? He will be safer with himself now and for the rest of his life.

As for hiking and the rest of the world, I cannot say. I find for myself, out here in the wild west, that this year has started with the a**hole factor very very high.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your son's experience. My son was robbed at knifepoint 2 years ago. Praha is a lovely city, she will love it, and I send prayers for her safe travel and your peace of mind.

Lovie said...

So sorry about your son! Poor guy. I hope he is o.k. emotionally from this.

I, too, have been really shaken by the young woman's murder. Maybe becasue it is sort of "in my backyard", I have daughters that age, or because my husband and I enjoy backpacking and could be targets? Who knows. I don't like being fearful, but it seems like the only smart thing to be anymore.

Here's a hug and a prayer that things will look up.
Leenora

mompriest said...

Oh we are so vulnerable in this world...I hope your son is recovering and that your daughter will be safe in her travels and that you find the peace of mind to study (or at least a relative amount of peace of mind)....

more cows than people said...

oh shit. i'm so, so sorry.

scary, scary stuff.

((((gg))))

lifting you all to light.

emmapeelDallas said...

This post hit home. I, too, have been upset hearing about that young woman's murder...in part because I, too, like to go off on a hike by myself, to reconnect with nature...and I do not understand how one human can find it in himself to harm another, and especially for no reason, randomly.

Was your son in Chicago? My daughter and son-in-law live in Hyde Park, and I know things have gotten bad when Alex talks about the dangers (and lately, she does). I'm hoping your son heals quickly.

Lisa :-] said...

Certainly school was a whole lot easier before you had one or two other human beings in the world so intimately connected to yourself...

The story about your son horrifies me more than the Georgia hiker story. I'm so glad he is okay. What a nightmare!

Hugs-- ((((Robin)))) :-]

LawAndGospel said...

((0)) I tried to post before bbut it must have disappeared in cyberspace. When I was in college my Dad was mugged and robbed in NYC and thrown from a moving vehicle and left for dead. I know your fears. He luckily turned out OK in the end. As you can see fomr all of our posts, know that you do not walk alone. Prayers for healing, comfort and God's embrace.

Katherine E. said...

GG, I'm so sorry your son experienced something so horrible. How is he dealing with it? Prayers for him, you and your whole family.

Wayne Stratz said...

Peace be with you. I wish you the strength to face these fears.