By now, everyone has heard about the terrible murder of a young Wayland HS graduate, and the ex-boyfriend accused of her murder. The pall of this tragedy is suffocating. I cannot escape it for a moment. It was with me from the minute my daughter-- a junior at Wayland High School told me that a classmate-- Lauren Astley-- was missing; it crept into my bones and stayed there. As the awful details emerged, I felt helpless, and shocked, and scared, and frustrated and witheringly sad. How? Why? What could anyone have done? Are some things just not preventable? As I made my way around town yesterday, the story hung in the air. I passed the news trucks at the police station, knowing that former colleagues of mine were outside, telling a terrible story that was now about someone known to us. It was strange to see this very personal human tragedy filtered through impersonal phrases; this time, the "18 year old woman found dead" was someone many in town knew from the time she was a little girl. I heard someone saying they remembered the young man accused of the crime-- as a very sweet third grader.
I know that within the last six weeks Wayland High School had spent time on the subject of violent teen relationships. There were classes, and discussions; my daughter told me and we talked about it. No doubt Lauren and Nate had participated as well. What were they thinking? Did they or anyone have an inkling that such a horrible thing was festering among them? And even if they had, could it have been prevented?
I know that the world is a dangerous place. I know that terrible things happen to good people. I know that no one gets out of here alive. I know that we must stay close to our children and sometimes intrude even when they push us away. But how much to push, and when to give space, and what are the warning signs? I know that people are complicated and mysterious-- even to themselves.
I don't know how those parents will get through this, though they must. My friend Steve knows; he says: talk to our daughters. I know this is right. I know there is love, and faith, and hope in the face of despair. I know there is some consolation in trying to learn and be better. I wish the lessons of living on this earth didn't come at so high a price. I am for the moment unable to do more than write this. My heart is aching for everyone.