This is a difficult day for me.  So my regular Sunday reflection will be on hiatus to write out my thoughts on the death of one of my high school classmates, Treesa Wiley.  She was murdered in Rockford yesterday, just minutes from our home.  No suspects are in custody. 

Treesa was not linked to crime.  Or drugs.  Or gangs.  She was the most beautiful spirit in our class, bar none.  I learned more about her in today’s paper, which said she had a learning disability.  Whatever her disability, it did not hinder her from knowing each of us by name.  She extended effortless kindness to everybody.  Her smile and laugh were infectious.  She was a teacher, adored by children and adults alike. 

I’m at a loss. 

It’s interesting what happens to us in these times.  Upon hearing the news, my first instinct was to shrink and hide.  I wanted to lock my doors, pull the shades, and keep my husband and baby safe.  I wanted to never leave the house.  I wanted to stew on this tragedy until I was a big mushy pile of anger and fear and blame.  I wanted to move out of Rockford.  Then move out of America.  Then eventually off planet Earth entirely. 

Then the second instinct kicked in. 

For me, the second instinct is usually more trustworthy.  It is not operating out of fear or shock., and so it does not shrink or run.  It does not seek to seclude or separate.    

It unites.  It explodes with intention and empathy.  It is optimistic.  It rallies.  

And it wants everybody in the world to move to Rockford so we all have to live together and find ways to get along. 

Truly, friends. This is a human problem, not a black/white, East side/West side, Rockford/other town problem.  I’m so scared what Treesa’s murder will do to us, not only as a city, but as a society of people.  Please, let’s try not to let these terrible events polarize us further.  Let’s extend our energies out to each other.  Let’s grieve together, and then combine our energies to find ways to put an end to these crimes. We cannot let catastrophes divide us.  The greater the divide, the great our differences will be.   

Treesa will be remembered by her classmates as a caring, wonderful person.  We will miss you, girl. Thank you for being unconditionally sweet during our six years together, even when it wasn’t popular to be that way. You were the coolest girl in school.  –Em

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