Today, January 11th, is considered the “anniversary” of the heinous murder of a beautiful young girl from our region; Shanda Renee Sharer. Now, anniversary is certainly not a term I would choose to use for today, and I didn’t know this little girl or her family, but I knew the minute I woke up, that today was that day. I am far from the only one. Her heart-wrenching story is known around the world. Empathy emanates.
As most days, this morning I look at my phone to check email, texts, etc. I noticed I’d been tagged on Facebook, so of course I had to look. As I click the link, I see it’s a post of a news story. Today, on the very day Shanda Renee Sharer was taken from her family, another one of her murderers is released from prison. As the tears well up in my eyes, I say a prayer once again for her loved ones.
I still remember the day I opened the Courier Journal and saw the story. I couldn’t get past it. It disturbed me. It weighed on my mind night and day. I found difficulty sleeping. I thought of my own small children and the suffering the family must be experiencing. My heart ached for them. One night, after finally allowing my mind to focus on something other than the news, I managed to sleep for a while. It didn’t last through the night however, and I was awakened, feeling compelled to write the words spilling from my heart. I sat and scribbled it out as fast as I could so I wouldn’t forget. Once finished, I read the poem I had just written, cried, prayed, and then went back to sleep. After that night, though the memory will always be there, I was no longer haunted by it.
Eventually, I submitted the poem that I had written to our local newspaper, dedicated to her family to offer some type of condolence, even if from a stranger. It was published twice, February 8, 1993 and May 11, 1995.
Years later, I found myself working with a wonderful lady and the conversation came up about Shanda. I told her about the poem I had written but that I didn’t know if the family had ever seen it. Excitedly, she told me that she knew Shanda’s mother very well and asked if I minded her sending the poem to her. I was tickled pink. The poem was written for Shanda’s family, so of course I said yes!
Not long after and to my surprise, I received the sweetest card and letter in the mail from Shanda’s mother, thanking me for the poem and telling me how accurately I had described her little girl. Of course the lump in my throat and the tears came with a warming of my heart I won’t forget. I was humbled. She told me she hoped to meet me one day and give me a hug from her and Shanda. Though our paths have not crossed, I have no doubt someday they will. And on January 11th of every year, I will think of that beautiful little girl, and know she is now safe “In God’s Arms” and that she and her family will always be in my prayers.
3 thoughts on “Empathy Emanates”
1. Jackye says:
What a wonderful story and tribute.
2. Donna says:
What a heartfelt story, love it!
3. Jeannie Cox Thompson says:
What a powerful story. God used you to make a difference in their lives.