Mr. Cope's Cave: Gone Girl Next Door


Are you going to write anything about Kayla Mueller?

I've been trying. I feel like I should, but it's hard.

Hard because you're trying to think of something different to say?

Sort of. My instincts as a writer tell me to not simply repeat what everyone else is feeling, while at the same time knowing there is no other way to feel about it.

Yeah. It's impossible to imagine the pain that family is going through, huh?

No, that's just it. That's what's so hard. Because it's not impossible to imagine that pain. It's all too easy to imagine what that family is going through. All I have to do is put my own daughter's face in those pictures. Or the face of any other bright young daughter, or son, so eager and promising ... so innocent and hopeful and ... and so unfulfilled. Then to know that awful reality you have nothing left but the pictures. Knowing that as time passes, even the memories will fade and lose their vitality because no new experiences are coming to refresh them. No new acts of kindness. No new adventures. No new homecomings and no new goodbyes. No more laughs or joys or heartbreaks. No pictures of her hugging the love of her life. No pictures of the wedding. No baby pictures. Yeah, we say it all the time, that it's impossible to imagine the pain the family is going through. But the truth is, most everyone with a child can feel what that pain would be like from their bones out, and they would trade their own life to avoid it. Maybe it's the most ancient feeling in the human heart. Even the thought of how painful it would be is so painful, we try not to think about it. Not until something like this ... pretty, bright, kind Kayla Mueller, so alike to what we see in our own ... and it comes out. As hard as it is, it comes out. And I just ... it's just beyond any words I have.

It's worse with Kayla because she was murdered, don't you think?

I think it's worse with Kayla because we've all seen what she was. We've seen the last words she had for her family. We've seen the commitment she had to doing good in the world, and it's easy to imagine how much more good she might have done had she not been murdered, had she a full count of years ahead of her. It's worse with Kayla because we know she was what people ought to be, what good people want to be. She was the best we have to offer, and maybe we're a little ashamed because it took her murder for us to remember there are people like her, doing what they can.

It's sort of like, when they murdered her, they also murdered all the people she might have helped over her life.

All the people she might have saved, yes. All the people she might have fed, clothed, comforted. And think of all the people ... all those wounded, war-ravaged people, homeless people, hungry people ... who might have seen what a good person does in the world. What the very best we has to offer does.

It hurts to think about it, that somebody like her is gone.

Yeah. It sure does.