26 July 2009

Change it. Now.

I don’t want to write about this. I really really really don’t want to write about this.

Yesterday I was standing on a bluff over the ocean when my husband and Luke told me that a girl in the eleventh grade was murdered. Lily Burk, a brilliant, talented, funny young girl who’d been in plays with Luke, went on an errand for her parents at two o’clock Friday afternoon and was abducted and then murdered. Her body was found in her parents’ Volvo. Blunt force trauma to her head, the Los Angeles Times website said last night.

Lily. She was in the class between Luke and Matt. Lily. She was sweet, gifted, kind, smart and a very, very funny on stage. Lily. Her parents’ only child. How blessed they must have felt for seventeen years. Lily. I looked forward to finding out what she was going to be, what she was going to do. Lily.

Lily Burk.

Now this is where faith is supposed to kick in, where faith is supposed to have answers. Does it? Does it really? Nothing, nothing can make sense out of this for me. My brain is stuck, scratching over and over again at these few horrific facts. Over and over again I can’t stop it, I can’t stop Lily getting in the car that Friday, I can’t stop filling in all the moments I don’t know, can’t know, won’t know, I can’t make time stop, go back, change, I can’t fathom the abyss of her mother and father’s anguish and I can’t do a thing to take even a tiny part of that from them, no one can, and I have to stand paralyzed as my oldest is slammed by inexplicable facts, inexplicable pain and, tonight when my youngest comes home from his summer program, my husband and I will be the ones to bring this horror into his life. He loved Lily. She saw him, liked him, was kind to him at a time when he needed it.

So this is the time when people turn to their faith, their belief, their spiritual leaders for answers, for comfort, right? Do you? Does it help? Do you get answers? Do you get comfort? Really?

Right now, slapping this grief down in front of any one human being, no matter how well-trained, no matter how much they believe and how thoroughly they walk their talk, feels unfair…to them and to me, like it’s a set-up for profound disappointment. It makes me feel like it’s just giving up, of bearing my neck to the wolf, that I’m just finding some way to accept - or at least live with - the unacceptable. What is it that I find unacceptable? Death and senseless destruction. I am in terror, pain, and rage because I want to do something, anything, about it and I can’t. Can’t. Can not. Nothing.

Last night I had dream after dream after dream:

Cars wrapped in white canvas like dining room chairs, Luke’s classmates walking thorough and around them, silent, sad.

I tried and failed to get home but highway signs were wrong and kept changing.

I sat, eating, at a metal table outside. The food was too expensive. I tried and failed to speak French to the owner. A storm came and I didn’t know it for a while until I realized I was soaked through and the umbrella over my table, which had been blown inside out apparently for some time, finally blew away.

And the last: I struggled with a display in front of pale blue fireplace mantle. A vase made of lavender paper was somehow held up in front on a web of string. But it kept tilting over and the flowers kept falling out. I kept trying to right it. I couldn’t. I finally gave up. It flipped over one more time and became a snowflake, the kind you make for a child.


  1. You have captured, in excruciating vivid clarity, the conundrum that to me IS faith in god. Does the solace come from replacing grief with love of god? That feels like denial to me. Does it come from believing with all your heart, that even the most senseless loss, the most devastating tragedy, is part of some bigger plan...that it was meant to happen? If either or both of these is true, then, on some level, I am envious in ways I can't describe of people who see the world this way. But I also believe with every fiber of my being that I will never, could never, share their world view.

    Your attempt to understand it is truly laudable, and I suppose it is only through the experience of moments as unfathomably cruel as the death of this child, that one finds the boundaries of one's capacity to believe.

    Thank you for this.

  2. Oh, Marley, I'm so sorry! I'm sorry for you, and your boys and Lily's parents. But mostly I'm sorry that all I have to offer is, "I'm so sorry."

  3. Have just discovered your blog and am so sorry that it is on such a very sad day for you.

    It is a fascinating and rather wonderful thing that you are doing, and you write so eloquently about it, so please do not lose heart.

  4. Tania,

    Thank you for your very, very kind words. Right now all of our thoughts are with Lily's family and closest friends as they struggle to heal.

    One thing I do know: the ripples of this devastating, incomprehensible act have gone so far and wide it makes me think that, while no one breaks out the news crews or gives press conferences, the impact of good loving acts must go just as far.

    Right now, the love growing out of the dire muck of this tragedy is palpable. May it somehow, some way that I cannot imagine, help Lily's parents and dearest loved ones.

  5. Marley -
    The ripples are wide, indeed. Amazing blog; and as the poster above comments, the love growing out of this is hopefully some comfort to Lily's parents. Some.

  6. This is brilliantly observed and moving and expresses so much what so many of us are feeling in the wake of this tragic news. Thank you for writing so bravely.


I'm interested in any and all comments although it may take me a while to post them.