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The Daughters of Cleveland

I’ve been trying to write this story since I first heard the 9-1-1 call from Amanda Berry, finally free. Somehow, I keep getting stuck. What happened to the three brave Cleveland women—Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus—is a parent’s nightmare. I can’t help but feel sadness and melancholy, a departure from my normal sass and sarcasm.

I know I’m not alone. As parents, any news of harm to children makes us want to hug and hide our own. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be one of the mothers of Amanda, Michelle or Gina. And secretly, I feel guilty because I'm not one.

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The more I read the details of this story, the sadder I get. These girls are somebody’s children. I can’t imagine their mother’s anguish. These three girls were just miles from their own homes, miles from their mothers and miles from safety. They were so close, yet so far. But, nobody knew they were there. They were helpless, which makes me feel helpless.

Nobody’s child should be anonymous. Nobody should be able to disappear without a trace. Would somebody notice if my children disappeared without a trace?

What’s the point of being so “connected” if I’m not connected to the people who come in contact with my children?

There’s a part of me that wonders how the neighbors didn’t know anything was awry. Then, I think about my own neighbors—none of whom I know. I don’t know the names of the people who live within 100 feet of me, but I do know the name of every Kardashian, in descending birth order. A workman comes in my house, but I don’t know his first name. The mailman who comes to my house everyday, would I recognize him on the street? Why do I have more “friends” online than I do in my own neighborhood? What’s the point of being so “connected” if I’m not connected to the people who come in contact with my children?

I wonder what would happen if we all agreed to become slightly better citizens of our community. Sure, there would always be crazy people like the man (men) who took these three Cleveland girls, but what if someone was there to notice? What if someone had a “weird’ feeling about him and actually did something about it? Maybe 10 years would have been 10 minutes.

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So, I’m going to make a deal with you. I’m going to watch your children at the park as if they were my own. I’m going to notice your kid walking past my house everyday on her way home from school. I’m going to speak up if “something doesn’t seem right.” I’m going to treat your children like they were my own, and I’m going to try to keep them safe. And you’re going to do the same for me. That way, maybe 10 years will become 10 minutes, and nobody’s babies will anonymous.

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