Imagine the most beautiful, seasonal surroundings; your grandchild sits on the balconey of the hotel room at the incomparable Gaylord Opryland Hotel singing Christmas carols to passerbys two floors below. They look up at her waving as they smile at the sight of a ten year old on her knees, on a chair singing with abandon. All is right in your world as you open your email for the first time in days and find 96 emails awaiting you. Nothing is going to intrude on this perfect setting, perfect trip, and perfect mood so you go into multi-tasking mode.
As an author with high volume correspondence which utilizes emails, Facebook, tweets and voicemail, I learned the art of “skimming” through what is relevant and quickly find I am able to prioritize. Then I see it. “Form-processor“. I know it is from my author’s website and decide that, as always, a “fan response” deserves immediate attention. I pop the cursor on the line and my world changes: cycles of reaction race through me.
My instinct of self-preservation kicks in. “No, no more serious subjects. The next novel will be a comedic relief though a suspense novel promised to my granddaughters. I just finished a non-fiction biography for a World War II vet and now I need to “relax”.
“Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells.” The joyous sound of a ten year old’s voice penetrates my concious mind. I look to see her turned toward me smiling in an evident invitation to join her. I close the email and try to push the message I had just read aside.
In the course of the next hours and in the company of excited grandchildren, I am constantly drawn back to observing the ten year old granddaughter. She will be eleven in April. The same age the author of the email was when she was kidnapped following her 11th birthday party, handcuffed to her friend Jessica, assaulted and left for dead in a Colorado canyon when they were both shot in the bitter cold of the three feet of snow. I shudder more than once and look suspiciously at every passerby who admires my granddaughter’s flashy smile, pixie face, spontaneous laughter and the twinkle of true merriment in her eyes.
As an author who writes about victims and survivors, I know the sad difference. I find myself dwelling on the story that appeared so suddenly, almost brutally on my computer monitor in the midst of this “fantasy Grandma Date Day weekend” with my grandchildren. The request for help from the survivor who wrote me cannot be put aside. I will contact her back with acknowledgement, condolences for her experience, but as of yet … no promises except to help her “find someone who will tell her story for her, and information to prevent her from being sucked into anyone unscrupulous who wants to make money off of her tragedy.”
My granddaughter hugs me and says goodbye at the airport as I board my flight. The gut wrenching awareness of “what is out there” and what can “change in a heart beat” propels me forward as I make notes of all I need to research on this case. I am going home to help this survivor get some measure of justice; a level of justice not available to her in the 70’s. I will share her story if it is the last book I ever write.
The truth is as an advocate/counselor of forty years for victims/survivors I know they are out there. What I also know is the number who never see justice. Again just today, I have heard of another victim since the survivor’s email, and she too never got justice. She was too afraid to “tell“. I feel like a schiophrenic person trapped with voices in my head of those who seek justice and cry out to be vindicated. I am only one person so I will do my part for one victim/survivor at a time. And right now, Annabelle Kindig, that one is you.