Pain That Cannot Forget

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o'er wrought heart and bids it break." -- Macbeth

She should have been 13 by now, playing with friends and complaining about her summer reading list. Maybe she'd even be giggling with other young teens about a boy from school. She'd probably be asking her big sister what she remembers of the seventh grade.

It's been two years now. Two years since the kids of West Stewartstown lost a big-hearted, caring child and classmates lost a caring friend. Two years since parents lost a beautiful daughter and a young girl lost a loving little sister.

The "Missing" signs adorned with her bright young face are posted about town no more. Yellow ribbons no longer signify hope on the trees and telephone poles in this small town. All that remains is the permanent void created by the murder of an innocent little girl named Celina Cass.

Somewhere, probably in New Hampshire still, lurks the monster who took Celina's young life, for no one has been brought to justice for this most depraved crime. Though Celina's grief-stricken father Adam Laro once said, "I just hope whoever did this pays for it," no one was made to pay for the inestimable loss of this lovely and innocent young girl. All one can hope is that her killer is haunted -- tortured by the memory of his crime and stricken by the fear that he'll soon be caught.

But as time passes, it becomes less likely that he will be. With each passing day, the chances that a killer will be identified and caught dwindle. And that passage of time will fade the memory of Celina's kind eyes from the minds of the many in her hometown and throughout New England who were moved by the senselessness of her murder.

A townswoman who knew Celina described her as a "very sweet girl, quiet, shy, a little sadness in her eyes." Maybe that is what makes her so hard to forget. One cannot see her photo and just move on, dismissing the murder as just another sad tale. There's something unspoken in Celina's face that makes her familiar, recognizable, unforgettable. Yet she's no longer in the headlines, no longer the lead story. Incredibly, in our culture, there are other missing and murdered children to whom we turn our attention. There's never a shortage. Television careers have been built around this sad fact.

So we've suffered other heartaches since her death, and we'll suffer many more still. And the natural tendency -- indeed, even the professional advice -- is to move on. But I say we should never move on. Not from a crime like this. Not while the killer is still out there, unpunished for his sick deeds. Not while justice for Celina Cass remains to be served.