Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Just Don't Understand

We get the local paper - The Minneapolis Start Tribune - on Sundays.  When I say "we" what I actually mean is "I".  I have been getting the Sunday paper for years.  I think that it is a holdover all the way from childhood.  On Sundays we would get up, go to church, and then relax that afternoon and read the Sunday paper.  I used to (and still do) delight in pouring through the shiny colorful ads and see what was on sale, picturing the what the new jeans would look like in my closet or a new couch in the living room.  Most of the time it is just imagining rather than buying, but it is still fun.

I usually skim through the paper itself, stopping occasionally to read a story, but mostly just skimming to see what is going on in the world.  Today I actually read a story, an entire story, and it broke my heart.

Today the paper featured a story about Eric Dean, a child who managed to somehow slip through the cracks of the system, a child who was abused by his own parents and died by their hands at the age of four.  While these stories are always hard to read, today this story really hit me hard.

Perhaps it was the fact that they posted his picture (above), so instead of Eric being a faceless victim all could see that he was a real person.  A sweet little boy with big bright eyes, who craved hugs and attention.  A little boy who affected those around him, people who tried to save him by trusting in the system that ultimately failed him.

I am sad because this is a tragic, senseless death that could have been prevented.  The article included a timeline of Eric's life which showed that the child protection agency was called 15 times in his 4 short years and only actually investigated once.  An investigation that obviously wasn't followed through to completion.

I am sad because I have to assume that Eric's parents were ill.  They would have to be to commit such a terrible crime.  I have to assume that they suffered from some sort of addiction or mental illness or both.  Too often illnesses of the mind are left untreated due to our general misunderstanding of them, people being to afraid or ashamed to ask for help, or just simply not having access to the medical care that they need.

I think that I am most sad because of the fact that so many suffer from infertility and will never have a child of their own, while others have them and just throw them away.

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