A Small-Town Response to Tragedy


Two weeks ago, a 12-year-old girl in my town went missing while playing a game of hide-and-seek, and the entire town sprang into action, spreading the word about her disappearance and helping in the search. Five days later, her body was found, and my entire town grieved. 

On Friday, my whole town is invited to attend her funeral (wearing pink and white, because she loved Hello Kitty), and I know the church is going to be packed to mourn the loss of a precious little girl most of the town didn't even know existed until her picture appeared on our evening news. 

Today, there was yet another shooting in our country. Every day more lives are lost to violence, and each time I go to turn on the news I feel the tightness in my stomach, preparing me for what I might see. During my work as a communications director, I watched the news every single day, and I felt myself slowly becoming desensitized to the madness. 

But amidst the insanity of our modern world and the growing connectivity that comes from constant access to social media, the existence of "bad things don't happen here" towns, give me hope.

There are still places where the disappearance of one child inspires an entire town to act.

There are still places where the death of just one person can bring a deep sense of loss.

There are still places where a train bridge will be painted in memory of one little girl, and a skating rink will hold a fundraiser to support her family. 

Sometimes, living in a small town can be difficult, especially after spending two years in New York City and one in Boston. But to be a part of a small town is to be a part of a big family, and that is never truer than in a time of tragedy. Watching my town rally around one family on their darkest day made me proud to be a small town girl.

May the soul of Naomi Jones, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.