The rest of September 29th, and the next few days, weeks, months, years are a bit of a blur. I remember there were lots of people, food no one would eat, police and… reporters.
It only took a few hours after identifying Christina’s body, if that, for a reporter to show up at our door. I encountered the first one, she had blond hair and said, “I’m____ from Channel 10 news, we are very sorry for your loss and we know you may not be ready to talk now but when you are here is my card.”
She reached out her hand to pass me her business card.
I didn’t take the card and I couldn’t respond to her so I walked pass her onto my porch. I sat on the staircase. She continued to stand there and I heard her repeat the words to someone else. I don’t turn around but I recognize my uncle’s voice as they appease her and said “oh, ok, thank you”. She continues, seeing his kindness as an opening to feed on us.
She says, “I would be happy to schedule something if that is easier for you.”
“Umm… I don’t think anyone is ready to talk right now,” my uncle still doesn’t understand he needs to shut the door on her face.
“Yes, I can’t imagine – how did you know the victim, umm… Christina?” she asks. She is going to pursue her interview anyway, barely knowing my sister’s name.
“She was my niece,” he replies. I hear my other uncle step in and says a firm, “thank you, we will contact you when we are ready.”
The reporter understood she needed to leave. She walked off our property but didn’t leave, instead she set up her camera crew outside of our broken home.
She didn’t care. I could feel the anger start to boil in my heart and I went back inside.
The reporters continued to show up every day, like vultures waiting to prey on a dying animal- except the dying animal was us. They didn’t wait for us to call them because they would find someone else willing to give them their interview or answer their questions- even if the person’s opinion was hearsay, it didn’t matter, they would get their story. We eventually had to appoint one of our cousin’s to manage the media.
Regardless, of their actions, we watched the news that week.
We had to watch the news. They often had updates before we did. We watched as they exposed Christina’s life and labeled her as “troubled” teen. We watched as they announced what others thought of Christina. We watched as they interviewed her teachers. We watched as they exposed all of Christina’s flaws.
The anger grew.
I can’t put into words the amount of anger I felt when they would describe my sister. It wasn’t because they were saying things that weren’t true. It was because they decided to use the little facts they had on Christina to make their story. It was only a story to them and they would tell it regardless of the impact it may have on us. Regardless of how their reports would haunt our minds or cause us weeping every evening.
How dare they even say her name.
I remember sitting in front of the TV, directly in front. Crying and reaching out towards the screen when I would see Christina’s photo on the screen- trying to touch her or hold her through the screen- almost trying to protect her from the 1000s of other viewers who would also see her photo and pass judgement. We would listen to the report as they described the violent crime EVERY news hour…
“body left in an abandoned field”
A photo of Christina
Footage of the field where they found Christina (another picture which caused me to grab the screen, reaching out to the precious blood that may still be there)
Footage of our home
A photo of Andy
“family is not ready to talk”
“charged with murder”
“remembered as talented but troubled”
Our hearts were ripped out by the end of the report and then they would move on to a different story, just like that. Leaving us on the floor crying.
Growing up my mom would always tell us, “Anger is powerful and ugly. It will grow inside you and before you know it, it will make you ugly inside and out – so don’t hold onto anger, give it to God”.
So I prayed all the time: God help me, take this anger from me. Please, take it and give me peace.
But… I wonder if I’m truly giving it to God if I have to give it to HIM everyday for 16 years? Maybe not. I’m trying.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath, do not fret- it leads only to evil. Psalm 37:8-9