It is 7:35 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9. Every year, Victims Services of Montgomery County hold a memorial service and vigil for families and friends of homicides. I am honoured to be asked to present the Spiritual Invocation. This is my twenty third year attending.
Watching those in anguish is heartbreaking. I have friends who have lost their children in this evil way and some have told me of the incredibly ignorant questions and comments they had to endure. Yes, I am sure it is done with every good intention. It is important to think before speaking. The poem I like by Angela Miller goes as follows:
MY CHILD DIED.
I DON’T NEED ADVICE.
ALL I WANT IS THAT
YOU GENTLY CLOSE YOUR MOUTH
OPEN WIDE YOUR HEART
AND WALK WITH ME
UNTIL I SEE COLOUR AGAIN.
— ANGELA MILLER
The poem says it all simply because there are no words. Victims Services do a wonderful job, including listening to court accompaniment for however long it takes.
At the vigil, Mary Onama, the incredible Executive Director, welcomes those of us who are present. She talks of the work this wonderful organization does, of the counsellors and the volunteers. There is such a need and in spite of the amount of people required to help in this sad work, they have to work at raising funds. She works very hard at that and puts the energizer bunny to shame. Her staff – I cannot find the words to describe them. Dedicated doesn’t really do it – it is from the heart all day, every day. Law enforcement persons offer the same focused attention until they get the monster.
I spoke after her and then Kevin Steele, the District Attorney, who won the Bill Cosby court case, spoke. He is a compassionate man unless you are the perpetrator and then he is brilliant getting justice and giving offenders their just desserts. However, each time a case of such horrifying assault comes to his office, he is moved by it. Sometimes crushed. He does his job as does his staff. He and law enforcement people work tirelessly.
So why the title of this blog? DON’T YOU GET USED TO IT?
Over a period of time, I have been asked this question. My answer is always the same. Should that time come, I will stop working immediately. I will never get used to homicide and the death of a child, as it is the wrong order of nature. People are not supposed to bury their children.
It is the same with suicide. For drug substance overdose, the judgements of others run riot with it. It is a disease. The pain is just the same – what would make anyone think drug addiction was meant to be?
Many years ago we lived on Susquehanna Road in Rydal. I disliked it very much, not because I was about to end my marriage, but the house was so huge it was almost impossible to cope with it. I was not allowed any help in the house, even though I was working. There was no one to tend to the pool and tennis court. It was a very snobby area. We were penny poor and property rich. I never liked BIG properties.
One day there was a screeching at the bottom of our driveway. We ran out down to the road and saw a car had crashed. At the same time two young men raced out of the car and ran off, presumably from the police. I don’t know if drugs were involved but I do remember one of the men who was standing there observing from one of the neighboring houses. During the conversation he said, “It’s a shame they weren’t killed”. This is what people have to put up with when substances are involved. Even if he didn’t know for sure, he just assumed the cause, and we all know what that means.
I took a break to phone my niece, Stephanie, in Toronto. About four years ago, her brother died and two weeks ago her only child died. Same story. Judgements. Having to endure sideways anger from people involved and didn’t know what to do so they expressed their rage to her. She is at a loss to grasp the depth of the pain – the deeper the love, the deeper the pain. We talked for half an hour and this is the only thing that can help somewhat – listening. I ache for her and her mother since this was her grandson. I’ll keep in touch and maybe later in the year fly up to Toronto. We shall see.
Ally and Ana
With my career experience I believed I had heard everything pertaining to this dreadful taking of lives. Some of my friends have ghastly stories about the death of their child by rape and murder. I thought I had, that is, until tonight. What I heard, listening to this bereaved mother and grandmother, was so vile that I can’t even write about it. I was horrified and that’s when the phrase, “don’t you get used to it”, came into my thoughts.
From her articulate presentation, I just couldn’t grasp a lot of what she was saying. I will write the name and you can look at this story if you wish. I know I will have a nightmare and honestly, I don’t know how this woman can sleep. It is wicked. People listening, including those of us who have been involved in this kind of cruelty, gasped at her words. There are no words to say to offer comfort. There never are. This pedophile, murdering monster took the life of a young single mother in a most vile manner and then a 21 months old baby. How he did it made me so enraged I thought I would explode. He made a deal to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to 60 years without parole.
“That was all he got,” I thought to myself in disbelief. That was the only way the family would agree to this. The only comfort I feel is that unless he is held in solitary confinement, there is honour among thieves. They’ll get him and I hope they don’t get caught. He should be castrated, and I wonder what reaction that will get from people who don’t know my passion.
This event was not in the state of Pennsylvania. She returned here and told us that Victims Services saved her life and her sanity. I know that to be so. Her other daughter had been on drugs and was clean and sober for a while. Then shortly after this happening to her sister and her little niece, she took a little heroin. Not much at all but Fentanyl was in it and she died. I think it was because she just couldn’t live with this horror. So this piece of filth really took three lives. This opioid disaster is worse than ever and usually the drugs are spiced with this terrible drug. Heartbreaking.
I am sure many people do not want to read this kind of blog post. It is nauseous. If you think so, if you read this case, nausea won’t even describe it. The reason I wrote it, apart from being affected physically as well as emotionally, is that we can do something about it. There is a way to be of service in an effort to stop this kind of abasement. It is called THE ALLY AND ANA FOUNDATION. I am certainly getting involved and so is Victims Services. The brochure can be obtained by calling 484-804-0410, or going on line to www.allyandana.org. There is a brochure and the story of this crime is in described in detail. I am warning you.
The address is 209 Anderson Road, King of Prussia, Pa 19406.
The brochure is in four sections.
1) The crime
2) Our reaction
3) How can you help?
4) Our Dream.
Her name is Stacy Gilbert Ludy. This is all in honour of her daughters and granddaughter.
The perpetrator’s name is Richard Nofsinger. I don’t want to know anything about him. I do want to know about this family and do whatever I can to start their dreams in the hope that systems can be put in place to stop these crimes. There is so much to read and even the smallest involvement can be of help.
So often in the cold cruelty of such individuals we say how absolutely terrible and then get on with our lives. We can still get on with our lives and help too. These families are showing us how we can make a difference. While she was speaking, the sound of silence was deafening. I mentioned the gasps, the groans, noises of disbelief. What I didn’t say was how many tears were shed. Men, women, police – all of them, weeping. Remember too that a lot of these people were there to find some solace for their own losses to homicide. Still, this one – again, there are no words.
I have experienced a lot in my long life; two homicides, one in my family and the other a dear friend. I know the pain and anguish of such helplessness. This is not a fix-it situation. Again, there are no words – just ears, hugs, cooking, shopping – whatever is available.
If one doesn’t know what to say, say nothing or by simply saying to them, for example, “I don’t know what to say. Do you want a hug, to talk, to show photos. Do you want solitude at this time? No, you aren’t isolating. You are trying to make sense of this maniacal action. Not being able to think straight, to even get a sentence together is all part of the rollercoaster that will be there for some time to come.”
After all these years of being in this field, as experienced as I am, I do not know how bereaved families at the death of a child, feel. Truly I don’t know how this amazing woman can close her eyes at night. To be honest, I don’t know if I am going to bed tonight or whether I will stay up, drink tea, talk with my cats and watching something mindless on television. My whole body is reacting to what I heard to the point that I am determined to help put these programs into action. My insides are shaking, they really are. I don’t remember feeling this way since I began the work all those years ago. I know I can make a difference and you can too.
I will be in touch tomorrow to discover the next step. This family knows nothing about me so I’ll send my website and then they can tell me where I fit in. Certainly I want a lot more brochures. This woman has to be heard. I hope she will speak more. The only concern I had was that there were several children there. I know children know that something awful had happened. The details were so alarming and had I known they were going to stay I would have taken them to the outer hall until the presentation was over. This was someone they knew. I do hope they all go for help and there is no better place than Victims Services in Montgomery County.
I was one of the founders of other support groups. Victim Services is the supreme in my estimation. I saw a lot of familiar faces, certainly from law enforcement persons, who really do not rest until there is justice done. As for me, as I blaze a new trail, I need to be left alone to do what I do best, which is teaching counsellors, therapists, and others how to deal with these tragedies.
One person some time ago, told me I was too involved with “THESE PEOPLE”, that I should compartmentalize and learn boundaries. She has never been with THESE PEOPLE and I wondered how she would react were she to be in their company.
Thank you for reading this and I hope, becoming involved. Do let me know.