There is a woman in Colorado who is blaming herself for the death of her daughter and she doesn’t need our two-cents worth.
There have been questions about how Sarah Ridgeway could have slept through those calls from the school. Well, she did sleep through them. She was tired. She’d worked all night. To the best of her knowledge, her daughter was safe at school. She had no reason to believe otherwise.
Working a graveyard shift can be difficult when one is raising a child.
Ridgeway had to give up certain aspects of a mother’s life with her daughter in order to make enough money to raise her. Little moments that we take for granted would have been rare treasures for a woman who has to sleep her day away so she can go back to work at night.
The outpouring of support in the search and vigils for Jessica was inspirational. It’s good for a community to know that its people will rally to aid the helpless. But that support we’ve given has been peppered with finger-pointing. Blaming a single mother — the one person who is the least at fault for the tragedy and was doing the best she could with the resources she had — is wrong.
It seems so easy to find fault with a victim of tragedy. Perhaps it is our way of distancing ourselves. Maybe we feel that looking at a grieving mother and saying, “I would never have done it the way she did,” makes us feel like it won’t happen to us.
Let’s be honest. How many of us would walk our 10-year-old three blocks anywhere? As a parent of three, I can say that I never did. How many parents hear their children tell them that they’re going to a friend’s house and then say goodbye without even walking to the door? Before Oct. 5, not a single parent in Northern Colorado thought twice about how much time they don’t actually have an eye on their kids.
Why? Because despite the rough year that Colorado has had, it’s actually a safe place to live. Our kids can ride their bikes down the street. They can walk to school. They can run down the street to a friend’s house without mom standing on the porch watching every step they take.
According to the most current statistics that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation offers, fewer than two percent of missing children in the state of Colorado are victims of stranger abduction. The average 10-year-old girl in Westminster has more to fear from her mother’s boyfriend, her estranged father, her older brother’s best friend or another family member than she does from the type of monster that snatched Jessica Ridgeway off the street.
What happened to Jessica is nothing new. It’s happened many times before — we know it has. We’ve read the stories in the paper, we’ve thought about how sad it was and we’ve gone on with our lives.
Things like this do not happen to children in our area.
When it does, we struggle to understand the randomness and turn critical eyes to the one person who least needs our criticism. If it’s her fault, then our children won’t be affected. If it’s her fault, then it’s not random and our children are safe.
So we’ll talk about Jessica Ridgeway’s abduction, what a tragedy it was and how we hope that her killer will be caught soon. But when we sit in our little cliques, though, we might blame Sarah Ridgeway for her daughter’s death, but not nearly as much as she’ll blame herself.