I woke up this morning haunted by the ghost of someone I hardly knew—a 26-year-old woman living in Chicago who was recently killed by her partner.


The passage of time and reason tell me that she was an adult woman, leading her life in Midwestern city. Memory tells me something different.


When I close my eyes, I see a child, a young teenage girl in shorts and a t-shirt.


I hear two young girls talking and laughing in a childhood bedroom, giggling as only young girls can over something I will never know.


I see a big house with white shutters and blue stucco, a green lawn, and a sprawling porch.


I see a basketball game; my sibling and friend in mesh shorts, passing a ball back and forth.


I remember a quiet, beautiful spirit with dark, brown eyes and thick, brown hair resting just above her shoulders.


What I feel is something different, something difficult to explain in words alone.


I feel a deep sadness and emptiness in what I imagine to be my heart. I think of a person struggling to survive in a situation that is horrifying to imagine. I wonder what could have happened to a young boy to cause such anger and violence. I imagine two sets of parents, one mourning the loss of a beloved child; the other wondering how their child could do something so terrible, wondering if they were to blame.


Were they?


Are we?


This society I live in seems to be perpetuating a culture of fear, violence, and abuse. Men are trained at a young age to hide their feelings and to dominate situations. Women learn to apologize and take responsibility for anything that might cause pain or angst.


Of course, these are generalizations. I know men with big, sensitive hearts and women who are strong and confident.


Yet I cannot help but feel that bell hooks speaks a deep truth when she writes about a culture of patriarchy that wounds all people in its wake.


I did not know this woman, but I feel her spirit in my heart. And I am left with the only means I know for expression: words.


So here are some words I have written:


Why did he do it?

Did he know she was so very young?

She was just a girl

She had a life


It might have been like mine

In my mind, she is a little girl

I remember her short, brown hair

And tomboy t-shirt and shorts


She was quiet when I was around

But I could her laughing and playing

With my sister in her room


When I was little I was afraid that there were monsters in my room

Hiding in the closet and underneath my bed

I thought until now that monsters were not real

But only a monster could hurt someone like this


Why did he do it?

Did he know she was so very young?

She was just a girl

She had a life

Taken away



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