Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reflections on a tough week

Last night was the candlelight vigil for Matthew Denice. I assisted with the organization of the event by making a Facebook event page, sending it to the appropriate people, and coordinating the donation/purchase of candles. My step-sister-in-law, Theresa, also helped me. Together we bought 840 candles, and paper cups. We purchased a few of the candles and cups, and used donations from friends for the rest. When we set up our table, we also received 5-6 bags of tea-lights, and 4 16-count boxes of tapered candles. We used every last one.

I was amazed and touched by amount of love and support. There were well over 1,000 people in attendance. There was a bike run, that passed the vigil and went on to the accident site. I'm told that Matt's parents were at the crash site when the bikes went past. I'm not sure if that was the case. Either way, it was a beautiful gesture and sign of respect for a fallen fellow biker. There was also a group of teenagers that skateboarded, single file, to the vigil.

My husband is part of both the biker community and the skateboard community. I was extremely touched by the gestures of respect and support by both groups. I tried to fight back the tears as the bikes went by, but I wasn't strong enough. It was so emotional for me. My poor son was even upset, because Mommy was crying, and the bikes were loud, and he obviously didn't understand. He was all smiles, however, when he saw his Nono (grandfather) and Daddy on their bikes. I didn't see them, but he did. He yelled "Daddy!".

I didn't personally know Matthew Denice, and I caught a little bit of internet heat for helping to plan the vigil. Apparently some people found it inappropriate that I offered to help. Here is my thought process: I thought that by taking one thing off the list of "things to do", I would be doing my part. I felt that as a part of this community, I would do what I could to support his family. I did what I thought was right. I heard nothing but supportive words at the vigil itself.

Last night made me proud to live in Milford. I had a tough time coming here from the "townie" town that I grew up in. I didn't feel like there was a real sense of community here. My mind has been changed. I'm proud to be a member of a community that will rally around it's members, and support them in their time of need. With that being said, I'm saddened to see the level of hate and intolerance that has emerged toward immigrants in our town.

While I understand that there are fundamental flaws in our immigration system in Massachusetts, that is not a basis to treat people unfairly. The fact of the matter is that drunk driving was the direct cause of this tragedy. I realize that this particular immigrant had been in trouble before, but his immigration status was not a direct cause of this incident. I wholeheartedly believe that he should have been deported prior to this incident, but it was his decision to drink and get behind the wheel that I take the most issue with.

I live in a neighborhood that is most immigrants. I have no idea what their immigration status is, and I honestly don't care. Most of them are great people. They walk around the neighborhood, and they say hello. They smile as they pass. They are respectful of our home, and we are respectful of theirs. I can tell you with 100% certainty that they are afraid to come out of their homes after the hatred that has been thrown at them in the wake of this horrible tragedy. They fear for their lives, and that is injustice. It sickens me.

I certainly hope that the loss of this young man's life does not turn into a illegal immigrant witch hunt. My most sincere hope is that his family is able to find the peace and support that they need during this time. I hope that the community continues to support them, and to honor Matthew's memory. I will certainly be keeping him in my mind. I pass by the accident site every day, and my heart aches.

Rest in the sweetest peace, Matthew Denice. You've left a lasting impression on this town, and you will never be forgotten.

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