Lori Bresnahan was among the best. A dedicated parent, she loved her daughter, whom she adopted from China. She cared for her aging mother. She was passionate about her career as a school librarian, having worked in the Liverpool schools for several years, bringing such celebrations as Chinese New Year to the school and inspiring a love of reading in her students. Lori died terrified and in pain. She deserved so much better.
As for the crime against the 10-year-old: the unspeakable miseries this child endured can’t be taken away. Nor is there a simple or sweet recovery from a memory so brutal and painful. She deserves so much better.
This was a crime against a woman and a child, but it was more than that. It robbed this community of its sense of stability and safety. Clay is a safe place; violent crime is rare, and random acts of violent crime are practically unheard of. But these monstrous acts have us peering into the shadows for unknown dangers and walking to our cars with our keys between our fingers, ready to swipe if we are surprised. We shouldn’t live in fear in our own communities. We deserve so much better.
So how do we move on from this? How do we memorialize Lori and help her family? How do we, as a community, heal?
We heal by helping, by coming together. Parents of children in the Liverpool school district, comfort your children, but don’t frighten them. Yes, the criminal who did this is a monster, but all monsters can be vanquished. Reach out to Lori’s family and offer them your support. Most of all, reach out to her daughter, who must now live without her mother, the center of her world. Be the village it takes to raise this child. Let her know there is good in humanity.
We all grieve with Lori’s family, for the woman who was so caring and bright. We all grieve for the loss of a child’s innocence. We all grieve for our shattered sense of security. But we can’t allow that grief to make us suspicious of our neighbors, keep us locked away in our homes after dark, or force us to raise terrified children.
There will be a time again when we feel comfortable going out for an evening walk, when we leave the back screen door open to let the breeze flow through, when we look at a stranger and smile a hello. But that seems like a long ways off. That’s what this evil man took from us. Compared with he took from the Bresnahan family, these things are small. But we deserve so much better.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.