Today, amidst all of the serious, albeit necessary talk about Violent Crime and Judicial reform, came a gentle reminder of what is at the heart and soul of this entire struggle.
And It came in the form of a simple e-mail with just one link, subject line reading "FYI "
"Please Visit'. And so I did.
What I found was a heart-wrenching and inspiring tribute to a friend , from one very special little girl to another, the latter, her earthly life recently stolen by violent crime.
As a recent image of a young and smiling Michaela Petit greeted me upon the opening web page, and my reflex was a deep and abiding heaviness of heart. But as I read on to the young web -master's introduction, my spirit lifted just a bit and I slowly realized that this was one of those times where the children of the world have something to teach their elders.
The young creator of the "Forever Michaela" website, Elizabeth Ollero, shares with us that the website was created, "so that people would not feel only sad" when thinking about her late friend Michaela Petit: Instead she hoped that they might recall and grow to know everything about her that was so special and beautiful. And although Michaela was clearly a pretty girl, this is a beauty of the inside variety we are led to see: A gentle and kind heart, a sensitivity that belied her years and a clear generosity of spirit and self.
Another goal of the website we are told, is to share with the world some of the causes that Michaela cared so deeply about, and in doing so, bring more attention and support to those and other causes through Michaela's kind and charitable example. Many of us have read about Michaela's older sister, Hayley and her fund-raising work on behalf of Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that her mom Jennifer was diagnosed with eight years before her murder.
Yet, not nearly as much has been written about Michaela's own philanthropic endeavors;
At just 11 years of age when she died, she didnt have as much time as her 17 year old counterpart to make this world a better place, but she did an incredible job for the brief time that she graced our world. For the past several years Michaela had become her sister's right hand with her impressive non-profit raising record amounts for Multiple Sclerosis, aptly dubbed "Hayley's hope".
Michaela was due to take over a good portion of the charity, as Hayley was attending Dartmouth in the fall. According to friends and family, she was very enthusiastic about inheriting the project, and had even chosen a name for the inherited venture -"Michaela's Miracle".
For years shed particpated in the annual M.S walks in Plainville, walking a great many miles in order to raise money for MS foundation, clearly important charity to the both the Petit clan and many others in the community stricken with this disease. She had also been involved with various animal charities, a cause that was also close to her heart.
Mentioned on the "Forever" web-site was that one of Michaela's last emails to her circle of friends was all about a new-found animal rescue charity that she cared deeply about. She asked friends to visit the website and use the "click for food option"-- a great way to help the homeless animals without having to spend money which she realized that not everyboy had.
Considering that this young girl was only 11 years old at her passing, this only makes her involvement with multiple good works that much more indicative of a uniquely kind and caring nature.
As I gazed upon the very last page of photos of Michaela, my heart was of course still heavy, knwoing that the world will never know such a uniquely caring and loving young lady.
The senseless and violent deaths of Michaela and her family will always confound and anger me.
But at the same time, today I began to feel something else - a small infusion of hope.
This hope was borne of the knowledge that the legacy of this kind and giving family lives on.
The world will continue to extract good from the evil that robbed this world of Michaela Jennifer and Hayley Petit And through this good, we continue to defeat the very evil that brought this all to bear.
And today these seeds were planted through the love and devotion of one little girl reaching out to the world with her dear friend's memory in tow.
"Be the Change that you wish to see in this world"
Michaela Petit's favorite quote on her Facebook page.