A Few Words About Elizabeth Smart

Last June while Jon and I were still living in Los Angeles we took a long weekend trip to Utah to see his twin nephews graduate from high school. We arrived during the late morning of Thursday, June 6, less than 24 hours after Elizabeth Smart had been abducted at gunpoint from her house.

Throughout the weekend we saw a countless number of handmade flyers and posters plastered all over the doors and walls of restaurants and malls, lightposts and mailboxes. You could hardly go a mile in the entire Salt Lake City area without seeing her face.

While I know that not every child who is kidnapped receives the same attention or media concentration as Elizabeth did (she comes from a very wealthy family who lives in a prestigious part of Salt Lake City near the Univeristy of Utah), it was touching to see a huge community come together in the face of a single family’s horrifying tragedy.

Since Jon and I have moved back to Salt Lake we’ve noticed a huge billboard along I-15, the freeway that gives life to the Salt Lake Valley, that has been dedicated to Elizabeth Smart and the hope for her return. It’s been there for at least three months, maybe longer. Perhaps the billboard has been there since the day she was kidnapped, and if so it only iliustrates the unbelievable belief these people have in miracles.

I was sure there would be an unhappy ending to the Elizabeth Smart story before we left Salt Lake City to return to LA last June. The odds were totally against her in this case. And seeing her face on that billboard was seriously hard at times. It was like, I can’t believe these people still think there’s hope. Who are they kidding?

And so today when the local news preempted prime time television to give us every detail of her safe return, I felt an almost overwhelming sense of shock, utter stultifying shock. I could not believe what I was seeing, especially since she was discovered 10 blocks from where my husband works, 10 blocks from my mother’s house.

And then I couldn’t believe that the step-daughter of the man who allegedly kidnapped Elizabeth LIVES NEXT DOOR TO MY MOTHER, that I have waved hello to this woman several times during the last few months as I’ve walked my dog around the block. It’s just too freaky.

And tonight as I write this I feel very happy to have my husband safe next to me, right there reading the 10th anniversary edition of Wired Magazine. I’m happy that my grumpy dog is asleep at my feet and that his feet are twitching as he dreams about playing with the Australian Shepherd next door. God, I’m happy to have my health (most of my health, at least), and to have a functioning relationship with my family even though we don’t agree on anything.

I can’t imagine losing a family member, thinking that a loved one is dead, only to have them return, alive.

It’s just so fucking wonderful.