Friday, October 13, 2006

So sad and senseless...

Michelle Gardner-Quinn

Today we learned that a beautiful young girl was senselessly murdered because a momentary lapse of judgement and fate put her in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was 21, a senior at UVM, a new transfer from Goucher College and excited about her new life in Vermont. It was Parents' Weekend at UVM and her parents were visiting from their home in Virginia. She was enjoying showing them the beauty that is Fall in Vermont. Last Friday night she had dinner with them and then left to join some friends who were celebrating another friend's 21st birthday. She got separated from the friends, realized her cell phone's battery was dead and asked a stranger if she could borrow his phone. From there things went horribly wrong.

This afternoon they found her body next to a rural road outside of town. A week of searching, candlelight vigils, press conferences and mass speculation comes to a tragic and heartbreaking end.

As a parent, my heart aches for her mother most of all. How do you survive the pain of seeing your beautiful, vibrant, intelligent daughter senselessly murdered? How do you face a future that until so recently held so much promise for her? Now there will only be the memories, so painful but at the same time reassuring since they are all her mother and the rest of her family have left.

My emotions are also wrapped in the pain and fear of Michelle's proximity to my own Meredith. They lived in the same resident hall complex. They probably passed each other on campus daily, ate near each other in the dining hall. Perhaps even knew some of the same people. It terrifies me that Meredith could have been the one walking up that hill to campus. Meredith could have started a conversation with the soulless animal that did this. By all accounts, Michelle was a savvy, street-smart girl who would not have been easily duped. This could only have happened with violence and force, a terrifying image. The frailty of the thread that holds us to this earth is sometimes too much to think about. It can snap so suddenly and unexpectedly.

I can't wait to see Meredith in three weeks. She will be turning 21 and we are going to Burlington to help her celebrate. Each birthday, as I give her a hug I remember the incredibly amazing feeling of holding her for the very first time in the hospital. It was truly the happiest moment of my life, so emotionally intoxicating. I had waited so long for that experience that I had almost given up hoping would ever happen. This year the hug will be a long one, probably tearful, but certainly emotional since I have been reminded not to take the experience for granted. I will be thinking of Michelle's family, robbed of the opportunity to ever hug her again.

My thoughts and prayers are with Michelle and her family. I wish them comfort and peace as they cope with this incredibly incomprehensible tragedy. I can only hope that the tremendous outpouring of support and compassion that the Burlington community has offered can help begin the healing process of this terrible loss.



Meredith has been in my thoughts and prayers this week since this poor girl went missing. Thankyou for memorializing her on your blog. I too can't imagine what her mother must be going through - such a senseless death to a life so full of hope Sue

lauriec said...

This event has had a huge effect on me as well. As a UVM alum (Class of '89) my girlfriends & I walked the same walk Michelle took many times. We went to after hours parties with people we didn't know, accepted rides, etc.

For a week all I've been able to think is "there but for the grace of God go I" Why her??

I grew up in the Burlington area & have often told people I wouldn't hesitate to move back to the area as it's a safe place to raise children. It saddens me to think that this has happened in my beautiful hometown.

I cannot imagine the rollercoaster of emotions you've been experiencing with your own beloved daughter there.

Michelle will not be forgotten.

Bonnie said...

You nurture and guide a child to be an independent woman, see her off to college and dream of her future life with your heart in your mouth, torn between pride in her and fear of the world. This evil deed not only took the life of a beautiful angel but more than likely took more lives and dreams with it. Her family.
I pray for her family, especially her mother. I know God has a plan for us all, but how can you make sense of something like this?
I caution my daughter who goes to school in Newport, R.I., another seemingly a safe place, but is anywhere safe, to be careful, don't travel alone, don't talk to strangers and she laughs at me with the assurance of the young, sure nothing bad can happen to them.
Thank you for your lovely tribute to this child.