My mind is a dangerous place. Make sure you wear a cup.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bad Mother

Between my life in Massachusetts and my life in Florida, I had a life in South Carolina.

We lived there from 1992 to 1996. They were mostly forgettable years. We lived upstate, first in Walhalla, while the wife got her MBA from Clemson, and then in Laurens, home of the only Ku Klux Klan museum (I kid you not, it was right on the town square. We were so proud).

I don't remember much about those years, but I'll never forget Susan Smith. Remember that name?

In October of '94 I was driving back from a visit to Massachusetts, when in North Carolina I first heard the radio reports of a black man who had carjacked a Mazda Protege from a South Carolina woman, and had driven off with her two young children in the car.

For several days, while the search for the carjacker continued, it's all anyone could talk about. The incident took place in Union County, which was only a couple counties over from where we lived.

And then, of course, tragically, the truth came out. There had been no carjacker. Susan had made it up. She had driven to John D. Long Lake, parked her car on the access ramp, and let it roll into the lake with her two boys inside.

Wow. The thought of it still breaks my heart. All we saw for days was footage of those two boys. Happy, playing...and to think....

The next day off I had, I drove to John D. Long Lake. Afer having lived with the story over the last couple of weeks, and invested so much of myself emotionally, I felt I owed it to the two boys to go and, I guess, kind of pay my respects. I don't know if that sounds corny or not, but that's how I felt.

It turns out that plenty of others felt the same way.

It had been a week or so since the real story broke, and I guess I was expecting the site to be more or less deserted. But it wasn't. Dozens of cars were parked there, people were all around, and a huge makeshift memorial was near the site with all kinds of flowers, toys, cards, stuffed animals, notes, etc.

I walked down to the edge of the lake and stood on the access ramp, right at the spot where the car must have first rolled into the water.

It was....surreal. Humbling. Overwhelming.

I held it together until I got back in my car. And then I wept for much of the way home.

I think often of that day.


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