"We're all weeping now, weeping because
There ain't nothing we can do to protect you."
- O'Children, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
I think of Leiby a lot. A little over a month ago, he begged his mum if he could walk home from day camp. She said yes, and even went through a dry-run, practicing where he was to turn off to get back home in Brooklyn, NY. He was almost nine years old, and he got lost. There's CCTV footage of him, walking down the street with his backpack on. He asked the wrong person for directions.
For two days he was missing. When the police knocked on a suspects door, he led them to his kitchen. Blood and knives on a chopping board, a pair of small feet in the freezer.
How can that even be possible? How can that happen?
Every country has its own lost children, their names indelibly etched into a collective psyche. One of Australia's is Daniel Morcombe, a beautiful boy who was abducted while waiting to catch a bus in December 2003. He was thirteen, and he was never seen again.
You know that feeling you get, when your child goes somewhere but you don't know where? Running off in a shop, or down the street .. you panic and think, oh my god this is it - something terrible has happened and I will never see them again. Then they round the corner, or walk in the door. Of course they do.
Except when they don't.
Monsters exist in the world. They look just like you and me, but they shouldn't. They SHOULD have heads as big as a hot air balloon. They should have ten eyes, or a flat skull - some universal identifying feature that would send a child running far away.
A man was formally charged with Daniel's murder today. I watched the Morcombes stand graciously in front of cameras for a press conference, their voices wavering. I clutched my scarf as Mrs Morcombe bit back tears, no more hope at ever seeing her son alive again. Their official website crashed. #danielmorcombe is trending on twitter. He would be turning 22 this year - a man. It would be harder to bundle a man into a car than a small child.
Max asked me who the boy was, on my computer. I told him that his name was Daniel, that he got taken away from his family.
"Did a guy take him away?" (How do kids sense these things?)
"He did, sweetheart. But, they found the guy."
"He'll never get out of jail, mum."
Leiby's family have started a memorial fund in his honour www.leibykletzkymemorialfund.com $280, 000 have been raised so far. They have a goal of one million. I have no doubt they will reach it. In the days following their sons funeral, Leiby's parents had a sign fastened to their front door. "There are things that this family does not need know. Do not be the ones to tell them." I ache for Leiby's mum. I ache for Leiby, walking his feet down the street. Those feet.
What can I do, to help? I can give money, I can educate my children on the dangers in the world. People were asked to wear red today for Daniel. He was wearing a red t-shirt when he went missing. I wore a red scarf and got my boys in the shot, to upload to Styling You's facebook page. I nearly took the photo again, because I was not sombre enough.
Maybe the answer is to not be sombre, but to walk through life with joy and grace, giving thanks for all we have.