There’s so Much She Could Say
By Kate Berkey - February 8, 2018
Posted in Adult Ministry, Stories from NMC, You'll Get Through This
The call came on a Monday.
“Your daughter has been found murdered.”
That’s what the officer on the phone said. He told Beth that she and her husband, Ron, needed to come to Atlanta immediately. There was little emotion in his voice; it seemed like this was just another tragic case and another tragic phone call. For Beth, it was the phone call that changed her life forever.
There wasn’t much she could say.
Beth and Ron couldn’t leave until the next day. After they got the news, they spent the night lying awake, letting the tears roll down their cheeks. On Tuesday morning, they began the long drive to Atlanta. Lost in their own worlds, Beth watched the landscape change, and Ron watched the road. They said little more than three words for 12 hours.
There wasn’t much they could say.
Walking into Katie’s house for the first time was surreal. Some things were wonderfully familiar, like seeing an old friend. Beth saw Katie’s clothes. She saw a framed family photo. She saw Katie’s books. She remembered happy moments with her daughter in this place.
Some things were eerily recognizable—police tape and fingerprint dustings. Beth recognized these things from movies and TV shows but not from her actual life. She repeated one, simple prayer as she stepped carefully through Katie’s apartment, “Lord help me. Lord help me. Lord help me.”
There wasn’t much else she could say.
The jury let the suspect walk free. They were 100% convinced that he had murdered Katie, but they felt that the law was too vague to hold him.
Their statement was simple, “We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty.”
To say Beth felt total devastation is an understatement. The jury’s simple statement was simply soul-crushing. Nothing could have prepared her for the moment she watched him walk out a free man while her daughter lay in the ground.
There wasn’t much she could say.
Seven years after her daughter’s murder, the investigation is still on-going, with a possibility that the trial will reopen. There’s a chance the Parvu family will have to face the suspect again. They may have to hear the testimonies again, see the evidence, relive the most devastating event of their lives.
And there’s not much the Parvu family is permitted to say.
But in the midst of their heartache, there are many things they can say.
They can say how wonderful Katie was.
Katie was an elementary school teacher with a deep love for children and a heart of compassion that looked out for the little guy, the one who felt cornered. For a while, she taught Navajo children, and then she taught in an inner city school in Atlanta. Her heart beat for the underprivileged, and she would often leave food on a picnic table for the kids who didn’t have enough to eat. Teaching wasn’t her career. It was her calling.
After Katie’s death, the Parvu’s received countless letters, notes, and messages from kids and parents and grandparents, all who had known Katie. The kids told stories of how Katie had changed their lives. They told stories of how she had loved and cared for them when they felt so alone. Parents and grandparents told stories of seeing changes in their children. They told stories of how Katie listened to them and tried to understand the difficulties of their situation.
There are so many things they say about their Katie. Through these conversations, they keep their daughter’s legacy alive and remind others that her story is much bigger than her tragic ending.
And there’s so much Beth can say about God’s faithfulness.
Beth still remembers the anger. She remembers the devastation. She remembers the hopelessness, the sadness, the bitterness, the deep darkness that surrounded her life. She remembers lying awake at night thinking of her Katie, overcome with grief. She remembers the rage that would make her heart race and her head spin.
More than that, she remembers the moment the Lord whispered His kind, sweet truth to her, “I know how you feel. I watched Jesus be murdered.”
In a moment, all of her anger and rage was gone. In its place was a deep peace, the kind of peace that isn’t easily swept away or replaced. The sadness remained the way any kind of deep grief would hold on, but Beth felt lighter. She felt free. Through prayer, she found her center again, even as her world spun out of control.
In time, she even forgave the man accused of murdering her daughter, realizing that all of this was happening because of sin. Sin, which wrecks everyone’s life, caused this man to commit a terrible crime, and if he didn’t find Jesus, this same sin would cause him to spend eternity in hell. In her mind, his sin paled in comparison to the reality of eternity spent apart from Jesus. And so day after day she forgives him and prays for him. Her heart even aches for him. It’s the kind of ache that can only be experienced through healing from Jesus.
This isn’t the life Beth envisioned for her family. Yet, moment by moment, she lays her reality at Jesus’ feet, and with courage and humility, she tells her story, encouraging others through God’s faithfulness.
There is so much she could say.