In some ways the impact of this crime is quite simple – seven decades of beautiful Teagan’s life. None of the significant life events you dream about including graduating elementary school, birthdays, high school, holidays, university or college, marriage, grandchildren, vacations and so much more will ever happen. Though what haunts you most days is the far more mundane losses of trips to the park, quiet cuddles, comforting hugs, grocery shopping and frankly just being with Teagan anywhere anytime.
In other ways the impact is so deep, tangential and complex that words could never do it justice. For me the worst pain is seeing the two people Teagan loved most (her brothers) suffer such profound grief – sadness, confusion, shame, guilt, anger, embarrassment, and sorrow. It makes me angry because I know that this would upset Teagan even more than her own death. The first questions that they asked shortly after her murder and many times since offer a glimpse into their shattered innocence and raw emotional pain :
- Why is my sister in the ground when other kids have sisters at school?
- Is Teagan’s mommy going to kill me too? No we will protect you buddy.
- Then why didn’t you protect Teagan?
The life of a happy, empathetic, funny, caring, innocent, athletic, sensitive and loving child was taken for no reason. Of course the victims are not limited to our immediate family but in reality everyone who had the joy of meeting Teagan and those who now will never get the chance. Her innocent classmates, relatives, teachers, neighbors and of course friends. Often forgotten are the first responders, investigators, coroner, lawyers, and judges. I have witnessed first-hand some of the pain and trauma they suﬀer as they dutifully worked towards justice for Teagan, so the systems that failed her in life did not fail her in death. I owe them a debt of gratitude I can never repay.
Losing Teagan has been a personal 9\11 – nothing in life can ever be the same and none of it is for the better. There can be no joy without pain, no holiday without sorrow, no event without regret and no day without sadness. I am blessed to have an amazingly strong, loving and supportive wife and children without whom none of my perceived strength would be possible. I generate my will, fortitude and persistence for them through Teagan’s voice always in my heart. We talk about Teagan every day and she remains an integral part of our family but the harsh reality she literally died at the hands of her mother takes an emotional and physical toll on each and every one of us.
Often not seen is that the slowness of the criminal justice process and the possibilities of appeals and hearings is very hard on the entire family as you are brought back to the trauma repeatably. Four years later here I stand reliving the worst day of my life, away from my family and job, days before Father’s Day. The verdict was the day before Teagan’s Step-Mom’s birthday and the trial itself within days of the day she was murdered. Given the nature of the crime and what occurred before and after Teagan’s death cause fear for the safety of our immediate and extended family.
Perhaps the easiest way to convey the impact of the Teagan’s murder is to ask a person to imagine something they would not endure in exchange for the life of their child? There is nothing….no amount of loss or pain a person would not sacrifice to save their child’s life. They would suffer torture, give up an arm or eyesight, quit a job, pay any ransom and certainly exchange their own life for hers. Why would you do this? Because all of that pales in comparison to the pain of having your child murdered. Seventy years of life, love and family simply vanished.