There is something about the faces of 6-year-old Lucia Krim and her 2-year-old brother Leo that I am finding hard to shake. In the past two weeks, since the horrific story broke -- two young children allegedly murdered by their nanny on the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- I have found it hard to think about much else. Something about this crime crawled under my skin and is now sitting there, reminding me that every second with my children is precious.
This is not the first case that has done this to me. Certain cases -- like the Laci Peterson case back in 2003 -- just get to me in ways that others don't. Working at The Stir, I see a million awful things every day. Mothers who kill their kids in awful ways, fathers who beat and molest and maim their families. Terrible, horrific things happen every day. I know this.
But few cases bother me like the Krim one. It's not that I knew mother Marina Krim. But it's also not like I knew Laci Peterson. But in their smiles, I see something I do know. I see me. I see my friends.
I know the tragedy didn't happen to me. But it feels like it could have. And maybe that is where the fear comes in. Back in 2003, I was just like Laci Peterson. I was a 24-year-old engaged woman who believed my husband-to-be adored me. She was a bit older and pregnant, but she believed the same thing. Then her husband (Scott Peterson) murdered her and her unborn child.
If it could happen to a beautiful woman from a great family who had all the comforts of a good life, it could happen to anyone.
I don't know the Krims. I didn't know Laci Peterson. Most of you don't know Casey Anthony or Drew Peterson or any of these other cases that get under our collective skins. But there is something about them. Either the children look like ours (my kids really look like the Krims) or they remind you of something that could happen to you. And that's scary. No. Wait. It's downright terrifying. Because if it can happen to them -- the perfect, most happy family -- it can happen to us.
People complain a lot about "missing white girl syndrome," the rule by which all missing pretty college co-eds who are white gets loads of air time while missing minorities or poor people are barely a blip.
I understand why they complain. We aren't reporting the news. We are being rubberneckers, gawking at the ruins of someone else's life, thinking to ourselves: "I am so glad that's not me."
But it's more than that, too. It isn't that any one life is worth more than another. But it's true that certain cases get to people as a whole more than others. The Krim case, for instance, has been discussed to a nearly despicable degree on every tabloid site, baby listserv, and social media platform for the past few weeks. It's gruesome and shocking and most of us relate.
But it's also a way of appreciating what we have. The crueler truth is less that people feel sorry and more than they feel horrified and grateful that it wasn't them. There is something compellingly horrific about a relationship -- with a nanny or a husband or a daughter or a mother -- that seems to be one thing on the surface and is, in fact, something else entirely.
It makes us question our own lives. Maybe that is one thing we can learn from the Krim tragedy. Rather than gawk and obsess, maybe we can look at our own lives and try to examine what, if anything, we could do to have things be different for us. We could also donate to the foundation in their name and do things for children and help their brave parents.
Senseless tragedy is often the hardest to understand. When it happens to someone else -- someone who made a dumb decision or was a bad parent or lived in a bad neighborhood -- it's "easier" to dismiss. That's not right or good. It just is. Some cases get under our skin and stay there.
This awful, terrible, horrific Krim murder appears to be one of them. I will never forget it or what these poor parents are going through. It's beyond tragic.
Does this case obsess you, too?
Image via Wonderlane/Flickr