For the last three years, I have gone to the same coffee shop that is one block away from my front door. On good months, I go once a week. On bad months, I go once a day. But I always go. Yesterday, I cashed in my latest buy-eight-get-one-free coffee.
This morning, I was putting on my shoes and glanced at my blackberry to check my email, preparing to saddle up the dog and head over for a caffeine fix before class. The first email I saw was from Best Woman: "Isn't this horrible?" it said. And below that, an article from our local neighborhood bulletin board.
My favorite coffee shop had been robbed that very morning, while one block away, my husband, dog and I slept soundly. Not only that, but one of the baristas, the lovely baristas that I love so much because they are friendly, unpretentious and always remember my order... one of them was brutally sexually assaulted in one of the spacious bathrooms with the automatic light fixtures. It happened around 6:30 a.m. Right around the time they were opening.
Why should I write about this? It's not my trauma. These things happen around big cities every day. More than that. They happen in small cities, in suburbs, in towns across America. It happened in Richmond just before we moved there, to the family that owned our favorite toy store. It was worse, then.
But this is different because these are people I know. It touched my life. Rape. Robbery. Violence. It touched my life, in a way I've been privileged not to know. And more than scared, I am sad and angry. Why did this happen to someone I know? Why did they have to suffer this way, while just a couple hundred yards away, we were so close by? She ran to the convenience store that shares a corner with my apartment, and the guy who works mornings there called the cops. The cops, the news, they responded right away. And for that, this neighborhood is lucky.
I pray for justice, and for healing, and for repentance.
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