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I am so sorry for what happened to you.
Although we never met in person, I knew you. Through social media, newspapers, radio, and television, I learned who you were. A happy person who was kind to everyone and helped whenever and wherever you could. A girl with ideas, hopes and dreams. A young woman with a bright and promising future. A small town girl on your way to doing great things; to make a difference. A compassionate soul, you loved, and were loved.
Sadly, I learned your name and came to recognize your face from pictures and advertisements posted by people getting the word out that everyone should look for you. Wanting to help, I looked for you, too.
In my travels about the country, I looked for you at every truck stop and gas station; every rest area and motel; every cafe and restaurant. I kept an eye out for you in grocery stores and in passing cars. In big cities and small towns; even places that were no longer anything more than a name on a map; a crossroad where travelers pass through. I looked for you, Mollie, but I could not find you. You were not there.
I dreamed that I might find you and stay by your side, offering you protection, while waiting for help to arrive. You see, Mollie, you were my daughter, too.
From the moment it was made known that you were missing, you became the daughter of every father who heard your story. Every mother claimed you as their own daughter and every son and daughter saw you as their sister. All questioned, “What if Mollie was my daughter?” Or, “What if she was my sister?” We were all looking for you. But we could not find you.
I listened for you, hoping to hear your voice calling out, “Here I am.” But I could not hear you; your voice had been silenced by one who meant you harm. When I heard your body was found, my heart broke. The search was over, but did not end the way we hoped nor envisioned. There would be no joyful reunion with your family. Along with so many others, my tears fell.
As fathers, we grieved with your dad, asking, “Why? Where did I fail you? What more could I have done? Should I have done more to protect you?” Mothers sobbed and mourned with your mom, wondering, “Why my child? She was my innocent baby.” Brothers and sister cried, “Why? She never hurt anyone. She didn’t deserve this.” We wept as individuals, and together as your family. You were too young to be taken away.
Only God knows when each of us will depart this world. Some will question, “Where was God during all of this? Why didn’t He save you?” In truth, He did.
At the very deepest, darkest moment in your life, when you were hurting the most, He reached His hands to you, softly calling, “Come to Me, Mollie.” He freed you from your torment; lifting you from the grip of your assailant. Taking you into His arms, holding you close to His chest, He brushed your tears away. Your crying subsided, giving way to His consolation, comfort and peace. Your broken body healed; your suffering over; no one can hurt you ever again.
I am sorry for what was done to you, Mollie. In disbelief that such a thing could happen, I still find myself looking for you, as do others. Now we know where to find you: safe and free on a path where angels trod. Fly high, dear child. Fly high.
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Tom can be reached for comment at facebook.com/tom.palen.98