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In need of a rainbow ~ Justice for Jessica

Jessica Ridgeway was a girl who lived in our neighborhood. Eight days ago, she was snatched from her family by someone cruel, foul, monstrous. Her death was confirmed yesterday.

Over the past week, makeshift beacons for her return cropped up in our subdivision. Someone tied purple—Jessica’s favorite color—ribbons around fence posts and tree trunks. There was a vigil held for her earlier in the week. My husband and older kids attended, shining their flashlights into the night sky with 800 other people. Come home, Jessica, was the prayer. Come home.

Yesterday’s news confirming her death inspired another change. The trinkets left at the park, the balloons and stuffed animals, the ribbons and the photos of her smiling face are now part of a memorial. Last evening, Aidan and I walked to the park to witness this heart-breaking shift in thinking.


Before we decided to walk to the park, I was sitting at our kitchen table watching Tommy and my husband make dinner. We were discussing Jessica, who was a classmate of Tommy’s in kindergarten. A thunderstorm rolled through about a half-hour earlier. I glanced outside the sliding glass door and noticed the light. The sky, still cloudy, seemed to be held up by glowing yellow, red, and green trees. The sun was illuminating them, creating a stark contrast. These are rainbow conditions. I got up and stepped outside, expecting to see a rainbow. There was none.

“I was hoping for a rainbow,” I said.

Archie, who was standing next to me, said, “We need a rainbow!”

When Aidan and I arrived at the park, this is what we saw:

Why am I sharing these photos? This was where she lived, played, and learned. There is stunning beauty all around us. We are blessed to be in this little speck of the universe—yet she was betrayed here. Under our noses and around the corner, evil abides. It’s easy to fall into despair and want to never, ever let our kids out of sight but that would be wrong, too. It’s such a hard balance.

I can’t fathom the pain Jessica’s family is feeling right now and will feel for the rest of their lives. It has to be unreal. They are in my prayers. When (not if) her killer is caught, it will bring some relief but it will never, ever repair what was undone during a simple walk to school.

Justice for Jessica.

12 comments to In need of a rainbow ~ Justice for Jessica

  • What a beautiful post, Gretchen. Such sadness all around us. That rainbow can’t come soon enough.

  • Char

    Gorgeous pictures! I hadn’t realized she had lived so close to where you are. I hope your family is handling these events okay.

    As is a running theme on your blog, my anti-spam word is beauty. So fitting.

  • Your/our community mourns, then heals, strengthens, prevails. To honor Jessica and all children who are harmed. Lovely photos!

  • Gorgeous pix. Thank you for showing us Jessica’s places.

    Today’s cold and drizzle match my mood about it all. Almost as if Demeter herself were grieving the loss of Persephone to Hades.

  • Oh my goodness. How do you even START to explain this to your kids, especially the elementary school ones? Sigh.

  • lovely… I too thought of Jessica when I spotted the rainbows last night. Seemed fitting to have rain and then beauty in honor of her.

  • Jill

    praying for her family and your community… such a senseless tragedy.

  • Michelle Lynch

    Beautiful. Heartbreaking. It started to rain yesterday which matched my mood. and then a little sun started to shine through the grey. It will be awhile before we heal, but we will by God’s grace alone. Prayers to everyone involved in the search for this beautiful little girl, especially the family.

  • Thanks for sharing this. We are praying for her family, as well as everyone in your neighborhood and in our community. It definitely changed everyone that followed this story.

  • Daria Mann

    Gretchen, you are an amazing writer and photographer! I have been praying all week and sad to hear the final news. I didn’t realize you might know her, that makes it even harder. Keep those kids safe, I know mine have lost a little freedom although I am already pretty close at all times. God bless you all!

  • Amy

    What lovely pictures, Gretchen. I’ve been following the story closely, albeit from afar, and my heart breaks for Jessica’s family. There are no words…

    In reading your post and talking with my sister I have been deeply moved by how your community has come together. The support and love that has been shown to this family is truly amazing. It’s such a beautiful thing in the midst of such tragedy, like a rainbow after the rain.

  • I am so sorry to hear that it hit so close to home. These stories just break my heart.

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