Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A day, a week: from profound tragedy to love.

I wish I could say that at the experienced age of 58, I have the answers, but I can't. I have only more complex questions. And maybe that is well and fine because if I did possess them there would be no point to continue. Where I find myself is with deep experiences to draw upon and confidence befitting of meeting great obstacles, yet these same obstacles only prove that there is much more to learn, to explore, to question, and to experience.

And isn't that the wonder?

Today a grand old cat died, my husband's dear friend for over 20 years and mine of 10. I find myself walling out our grief: there are so many I've lost in such a short time that the daily struggle to move into joy is akin to PT exercises one doesn't want to do.

My desires have changed. It is no longer about objects or youthful appearances or unrequited loves. Now it is about those who no longer are here. It is about a hunger for the comfort of those who came before. Now I am the one who can give the comfort, who can provide my wobbling wisdom. From that springs an even more difficult desire: to do good, to protect, to help grow, and to move forward.

This week the EMC team was part of the Laura K Winterbottom March. Laura, a young colleague of mine was brutally abducted by a stranger, raped, and murdered in the relatively peaceful small city of Burlington, Vermont. Our project BREAKAWAY will now be part of the youth education program in Chittenden County due to a partnership with H.O.P.E.Works and the support of the LKW Foundation. This is all incredibly great news—we get to bring back home a program created in Chittenden County by our team, Population Media Center, the UNFPA, over 130 Champlain College students, and numerous local and international partners and which, most importantly, has seen success in other areas of the world.

My EMC team - I am incredibly proud of their efforts.
But what I am most struck by is not our success and what we will work towards ending (which is indeed greatly improbable and therefore all the more astounding because we have had success!) but more deeply profound is the power of one small family. Despite the horrendous tragedy that struck Ned, JoAnn and Leigh, they have turned this unimaginably deep tragedy into love. An astounding act but one of immense purity. Pure and simple. Violence became love.

This week, this day, the needle has moved forward. Choices expand and the question I eternally ask is how to best make this world a more balanced, a more respectful, a more peaceful place? One team, one family paved the way.

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-


  1. The more we experience love in the presence or face of the tragedy of violence, the more we transform ourselves and the world. I truly believe this is so. Your writing Ann speaks volumes to the truth that one of us and even more so one family among us can change the world. Laura's family have experienced the unimaginable to many of us and are an inspiration to all of us.

    1. Yes, it is so powerfully true - impossible even to comprehend and yet TRUE. And there is the transformation if one is open to see both the pain and the gift. Thanks Janine.

  2. I am so lucky to read it this afternoon when I was in office. These words made my day. Thanks,Ann

    1. Thank you Jing! Just seeing your name brings a huge smile to my face this morning!