By now, everyone has heard of Autumn Pasquale, rest her soul. Autumn was a girl who disappeared from her hometown, about 30 minutes away from my town. Two days later, her body was found stuffed into a recycling container, her bike pulled from the home of two brothers, 15 and 17, who now await trial, charged with murder.
Autumn Pasquale was 12, and she was killed for her bike.
SchoolGirl overheard some conversations, and began asking questions, innocent questions that can only come from the mouth of a 7-year-old. Who was Autumn? Why did she hide in a recycling container? Did she get a bath when she got home? Were her parents worried? SG is very concerned about her fellow humans like that. When I stated that Autumn was no longer alive, more questions. Was she sick? Did she get sick in the trash can? How long was she sick?
I hate that we live in a world where I had to explain to my 7-year-old that crime happens (not in those words). I hate that a 12-year-old cannot ride her bike in safety, that even in my own yard, my children are not entirely safe. It can happen to anyone.
I have attempted to shield my children as best as possible from the bad things in the world. I mean, come on, they’re children, for crying out loud. But at some point, in some cases, it becomes necessary to lift the veil so that they can be safer in knowledge. I myself was raised that if I was old enough to ask, I was old enough to receive an age-appropriate answer, sugarcoated a little as possible. But there is no sugarcoating what happened to Autumn, because it is harsh, it is cruel, it is ugly.
I tried, oh so hard, fighting back tears myself, to soften the cruel dose of reality my daughter was about to receive. Autumn was not sick. Autumn was killed by bad people. I had to explain that there are people in this world who do bad things to people, and that two teenagers had killed Autumn. She wanted to know more, so I let her watch the news reports. By the end, we were both crying.
She was crying because she felt sympathy for Autumn’s family. I was crying because as a mother, my heart ached for her family…
But I was also crying for the loss of a tiny bit of my daughter’s innocence.