After having had to report on the tragic murders of two teens last year, I began to reflect on how things could have ended instead of the way they did.
It saddens me to write about something that so vastly impacts the lives of those living in the community in such a negative way.
However, I know from experience not all young girls or boys deal with life's circumstances the same way. Some may choose to overcome their troubles and others may choose to use the circumstances surrounding them as an excuse to rebel or select friends who are poor influences.
I do not purport to know what led the murder victims to be in the situations that ultimately resulted in their deaths. I only know that there were opportunities in my life in which I could have placed myself in harm's way.
My sister and I both suffered from circumstances that could have been used as an excuse for bad choices in life. As young children, we were exposed to my father's abuse of our mother after he had been drinking. My father, when he was not drunk, was a doting dad, but alcohol made him mean.
My mother chose to remove herself and her children from the environment of abuse when I was four and my sister was two-years-old.
The abuse did not stop until my father chose to drink and drive one night in 1986. That is when he died, leaving a hole in my sister's and my life that can never be completely filled.
In spite of the things I knew to be true about my father, and the loss of my mother's home-baked cookies through those years (among many other things she no longer did for us), I chose to seek positive re-enforcement. I chose to become the best student in my classes, wanting to best everyone else with my grades.
My sister, on the other hand, was of another personality and sought attention through negative behavior. When she was in the sixth grade, I recall her getting into the liquor cabinet and getting so inebriated...well, I'll leave the state of her drunkenness to your imagination.
Her poor choices escalated from that point and I continued to pursue accolades.
We were harmed in the same ways, but we both selected different avenues in which to gain attention.
I became an academic achiever in high school, joined the cheerleading squad and became a Christian.
My sister scorned my beliefs, dropped out of high school, ran away and developed an addiction.
The point to the sad tale of two sisters is that children and adults alike react to the circumstances of life in different ways. For some, like my sister, there is help out there somewhere. My mother tried to find the help sis needed, but no one was able to break through.
Others, like myself, choose to stay away from situations that would cause further harm. We choose to seek a future that is better than our past or present circumstances.
I found healing through my faith.
My sister, sadly, is still seeking her own happiness.
Knowing it all comes down to the choices we make, this might help us to better understand the sad, senseless tragedies that happen in our community.