If you've been following the story of Kayla Golden, the mom killed while trying to protect her 3-day-old baby son from a kidnapper in the parking lot of a Texas pediatrician's office, your heart has probably been doing what mine has through the whole ordeal. Bouncing up and down in my chest like a basketball. The news that baby Keegan Schuchardt has been found alive and well should give us a rest.
But now cops are saying Verna Deann McClain, the registered nurse they have arrested and charged with capital murder in the case, didn't target Kayla Golden. They think she just wanted to steal a baby. Any baby.
In other words? This was a random act of senseless violence against a woman who was just ... living her life.
It's hard to put into words why the police report leaves me so unsettled. The story would still be tragic if the 30-year-old McClain (who has a 16-year-old child at home ... you do the math) had picked out 28-year-old Golden and said, "Hey, I'm going to shoot her in cold blood as I try to steal her baby today." A baby would still be left without a mother, his dad, Keith Schuchardt, left to raise a child without a partner.
But I'm going to go out on a limb here. When a criminal targets one person in particular, it gives us the rest of us -- as selfish as I know this will sound -- some relief. This was between the two (or three in this case ... there was apparently a man in McClain's car) of them. We -- the public -- were never at risk. It's an incident that has clear borders.
When police come out and admit that a victim was chosen more at random, that distance that allows us to go about our own daily lives suddenly gets broken down. There is no clearly defined border. There is a jagged edge, oozing out into our safe zone. Kayla Golden's fate could have been ours, or our sister's, our cousin's, our niece's. Little baby Keegan could have been our son, our nephew, our cousin's kid ...
My heart breaks for little Keegan, his dad, and the rest of Kayla's family and friends today. They never expected a trip to the pediatrician's office would end in tragedy. It was just part of the normal routine of life. I hope that the little boy can give them some comfort in the coming days and weeks ahead. The hope of someone so innocent and pure is probably what we all need to get through moments like this.
What have you been thinking about since you heard about Kayla and little Keegan?
Image via Montgomery County Police