I’m delighted to announce that there will finally be a memorial on the Chain of Rocks Bridge to honor the memory of my cousins Julie and Robin Kerry, who were murdered there twenty years ago this month. This memorial is long overdue and, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, we have the students at Parkway South High School in St. Louis to thank for bringing this project to life.
They are seeking funds to help pay for the memorial. If you can, please donate. Make checks payable to Parkway South Bridge Memorial, and send to:
Parkway South High School
c/o Michelle Dempsey
801 Hanna Rd.
Manchester, MO 63021
Thank you for your support. Kisses & Revolution!
Posted: April 27th, 2011
, RIP Stuff
Comments: 2 Comments
April 5th, 2011. Today it has been twenty years since Julie and Robin Kerry were murdered. There’s nothing poignant to be said about it, nothing romantic about that round number. They should still be alive. Last week when I visited my family in St. Louis, I should have gone to their homes instead of their grave. Our children should have played together.
Today is a day that weighs heavily on so many people. For me, I sit at my desk, sad and distracted. I’m not getting much work done this afternoon. Tonight, when I tuck my two daughters into their beds, I will cling to them. I will try not to worry them with tears. My brother will spend his day on false bravado, and then, when no one is looking, he will drink a beer and he will weep. He’ll deny it. He’ll act like he’s fine, because his life is full of blessings and he has healed. But there are certain overwhelming days when you can’t stop the memories from swarming, no matter how brave or healthy or macho you might be. He quit smoking a while ago. I hope he makes it through today.
I focus on me, on my family, because that is what I know. But the truth is, so many people are grieving today, for the two decades we have all lost with Julie and Robin. Murder doesn’t just happen to the people who die. It happens to everyone who knew and loved them. All of our aunts and uncles and cousins, Julie’s and Robin’s many beloved friends - they are all remembering, today. For the Kerry family, Julie’s and Robin’s sisters and parents… well I can’t even imagine the absence, the wound that exists in their daily life, like losing a limb, two limbs. When I look at my daughters and I think of my Aunt Ginna, who lost her beautiful girls, I simply cannot breathe.
I usually try to be sort of “public persona” about these blog posts. I try to be funny and distant and writerly. But today it’s all shit. I cry, writing this. There is still a rage that exists, a tremendous sense of injustice, of fury. But mostly it’s just grief. It’s a MISSING. There is a sense of loss that has shaped and directed my life since I was sixteen years old, even though this violence didn’t happen to me. It happened to my cousins. It happened to my brother. My proximity to that trauma was enough. I wish that, in those formative years of my life, I could have been defined in some other way. I wish we all could have been. I’d like to know who my brother might have been, who Julie and Robin might have been, if that night had never happened. But Jesus, there’s no use wishing.
Last week I had an event at Left Bank Books for The Outside Boy, and these kids came to the reading:
They are from Parkway South High School in St. Louis, and that’s their teacher Michelle Dempsey with us, in the back row on the far right. They recently read A Rip in Heaven in her class. They were so inspired by Julie and Robin that they decided to petition the city of Madison, Illinois (which owns the Chain of Rocks Bridge), to have a memorial installed at the bridge. I tried to do something similar a few years ago, and got nowhere with it. But these kids would not take “no” for an answer. They harrassed the city until they agreed to the memorial.
I like to think I’m sort of hardened now, that I have something of a thick skin. But I was moved to tears by these kids, by their dedication to my cousins, by their committment to do something GOOD in their memory. So this is the feeling that I want to win the day: that Julie and Robin were so extraordinary, that twenty years later, people who didn’t even know them are paying homage to the goodness of their souls. No one can take that away.
Kisses & Revolution.
Posted: April 5th, 2011
Categories: RIP Stuff
Comments: 22 Comments