The headline in the Seattle Times April 14th was pure horror: "Police say mother, 14, smothered infant because she was scared." The sort of headline that brings tears to your eyes.
Not that long ago, I might have been assigned the grim task of calling Federal Way police to find out what happened. It would have been my job to try to track down those who know the girl.
I've written many versions of that same story over the years. Some things are always the same: the heartbreak, the grief over a tiny life lost, the harsh end to a girl's onetime dreams. Readers reacting with shock, outrage, ignorance. Asking, how this could happen? In the age of Oprah when advice about everything from parenting to sex is just a click away?
But every tragedy has its own twists as well. This time the "father" is a 20-year-old man who has been charged with child rape of the teen. Prosecutors allege he was having sex with the eight-grader for months with mom's knowledge. As the mother of a young teen, I find that hard to comprehend.
And now the girl sits in King County juvenile detention accused of killing her child. Her unnamed newborn is surely a victim. But so is the girl whose fear and pain erased all reason. Whose panic severed any compassion for the life she bore. Whose own innocence had been bartered away long before if what prosecutors say is true.
My heart aches for two lives lost.