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Doolin: Trying to make sense of senseless tragedies

John Doolis an Oak Forest resident South Divisiadvertising 
director for Sun-Times Media.

John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and the South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: January 31, 2013 6:36AM



“And may perpetual light shine upon her.”

Erica Rodriguez, a 40-year-old mother of three from Oak Forest, was strangled Dec. 18. Her husband remained in critical condition a week later after being found with his throat cut.

Exactly what happened and who is responsible is for the experts to figure out. That’s not what this column is about. It’s about the aftermath and how we deal with such tragedies in a world in which information, innuendo and rumors spread like wildfire via the Internet in the wake of such events.

I have reviewed online news sites, local blogs and Facebook for two things: to get a flavor for the community on this tragic event, as well as to try to understand some of the comments that are posted.

It’s a different world that we live in today. There’s instant access for those who want to post “information” to the public, and the fact you can do so without supplying a source or accounting for the accuracy of the information is astonishing.

The fact that adults would post rumors and innuendo — “information” that the Rodriguez’s three children have access to — is disturbing.

A lot of people are affected by this tragedy, not just the family. Erica Rodriguez was very active in schools, churches and community events, and friends of her children really admired her positive, can-do attitude.

There are a lot of hearts broken in and around the Oak Forest community. Nobody had recovered from the shootings in Newtown, Conn., and then this.

Our faith is challenged every day. It’s the world we live in.

Looking back on my youth and young adult years, these things didn’t seem to happen. We ask the youth of today to endure a lot, remain focused and carry on as if nothing has happened.

I would not want to be a teenager today. Everything you do is scrutinized, and something about your life is posted whether true or not.

Parenting these days is not easy, either. How do we continue to reassure our children that they are safe and that terrible things are not going to invade their lives?

Truth is we can’t. All we can do is be consistent in our message that we will protect you from everything we can, but sometimes things are not going to make sense and bad things do and are going to happen to good people regardless of the circumstance.

However, I must confess I’m really tired. I’m tired of having to convince myself, so I can reassure my kids, that God is continually calling these angels home and that it’s God’s will and God’s plan.

I dig deep into my soul every day to pass that message along. But when my 15-year-old son is sitting at a computer with a tear rolling down his face, asking the online world “Why did this happen to Mrs. Rodriguez, why?” or when my 10-year-old son answers my question “Are you excited to be on Christmas break?” with “Yes, because I haven’t felt the same at school since last week,” or when my 13-year-old daughter is insistent about checking up on me and her mother throughout the day because she is not sure if anything bad is going to happen to us, then I have to believe that’s not God’s plan.

Just when I thought I was at my wit’s end, I stumbled across a poem titled “My First Christmas in Heaven” by an unknown author.

In part, it reads:

“I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear, but the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

“I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart, but I’m not so far away, we really aren’t apart.

“So be happy for me dear ones, you know I hold you dear, and be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

“I send you each a special gift, from my heavenly home above, I send you each a memory of my underlying love.

“After all LOVE is the gift, more precious than pure gold. It was always most important in the stories Jesus told.”

It’s all we have to hold on to.

John Doolin is an Oak Forest resident and South Division advertising director for Sun-Times Media.



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