Monday, March 10, 2008

Worry Worry Everywhere

It was 8 p.m., and I head home from a meeting, the fingernail moon marking the road I would take.  I wonder if I should call home to alert my husband of my whereabouts, gazing at the cars stopped next to me at stoplights, fearful. My mind wanders, the image of a bright-faced blonde coed in my head, saying goodbye to roommates who leave her alone for a party, or a bar, or someplace. The paper didn't say. As a mother, I can't help thinking about why anyone would go out at 1:30 a.m., on a Tuesday. And then I think again of Eve, the one who said she had too much studying to do to join them. If only.

Eve Carson. The president of the student body of my alma mater, who was found murdered in the middle of a quiet neighborhood street maybe a mile from the campus admissions office a week ago tomorrow. She was a year older than my son, walked the same brick pathways as I did 30 years ago, knew some of the kids I know. 

Thoughts of Eve clutter my mind these days, as I think about those last hours of her life, and how likely a split-second decision led to the end of it. In my mind's eye, I see her rifling through a notebook, taking notes with a mechanical pencil, talking on the phone. She makes herself a cup of coffee to stay awake, realizes she needs to be prepared for the next day, copies for a meeting maybe, so she gathers her coat, cellphone, purse, keys, the few tools a young woman in college thinks she needs. She has done this so many times before, lives only blocks from the north campus quad, and she knows the parking lot at the Planetarium is well lit. 

I imagine her indescribable fear when the boy who would end her life came into it. In the dark. As she climbed into her car? Had he been watching? Maybe at first she believed she would survive it — perhaps it never crossed her mind that she wouldn't — because from all reports Eve believed in the complete goodness of people. I watch too much tv, so I can picture what he might have said to her, how she told him her pin number, gave him the money in her wallet, anything he wanted from her, thinking surely that would be enough. She might have even said she'd help him, help find a way out of the life he had chosen for himself, because there is so much more out there. She had seen it, all over the world. 

Then I imagine she thought of her parents, her little brother, and how they would take the news. Maybe she thought she would tell them about it later, that she would greet them at home over Spring Break and hug them tighter, vowing never to head to campus at such an early hour again. Lesson learned.

I imagine, then, at some point, she knew.

This morning, when I left the house for my walk before light, I slipped my phone into my pocket, for the first time since I began walking 13 years ago. 

When I wake, I think of Eve's family, picture her mother purging in the bathroom. I teach writing, and I remember one student writing about his sister's unexpected death, and how all he could remember was the sound of his mother throwing up, for hours, after she heard the news; I know that's what I would do if something happened to my beautiful daughter or son. And in the hours before light, I pray that God will wrap his arms around Eve's family, and the hundreds of people who knew her and are also grieving — all those kids — and that somehow they will feel their way through it all, toward the light again.

And I pray her killer will be caught.