(at left) Hundreds of mourners line up to attend the funeral of Molly Hawthorn-MacDougall at Pats Peak in Henniker; Saturday, May 8, 2010. The 31-year-old nursing student was killed in her home last week.
Family: 'We will not succumb to fear' | Concord Monitor
We tried not to talk about it as we drove up to NH in the driving rain. As parents, the murder of any daughter felt too close. Too terrifying. She was the eldest of a family we met back when we moved to Bittersweet Farm. I sang with the Noonday Farm Singers as an alto, with Margaret, her mother. When we started contra dances in Royalston, Margaret played flute and whistle in the band. She also home schooled her kids, off and on and her youngest, Sadie, was Sira's age. We were not super close, just enough to feel an extra sting that connection brings to the stabbing pain of loss any parent would feel reading about her.
Robert and I thought this would be one of the saddest and hardest funerals we had ever been too. It was and the box of tissues I brought were put to constant and immediate use. And yet, Robert and I left this service feeling both drained and uplifted. At this memorial, the family, in laws and friends of the young woman who was just murdered sent out an amazing message of peace. They did so in a moment of deep pain and loss. They even embraced the sister of the murderer who rose and spoke during the Quaker silence and reflection. She was brave young woman and I think may have been invited by the families as she sat close to them in a packed hall.
"We are hurting and need each other's strength in this. We are shaken, and we need each other's strength," said Rachel Eleanor Haynes Coombs, a close family friend, at the opening of yesterday's service. "We are reeling from an act of violence, and we need each other's commitment to true peace."
Fleuraguste's sister rose to speak during the Quaker-style service.
"I'm sorry for all of the pain," she said, tears streaming down her face. "I don't know why. But no one deserved to feel this. No one deserved what happened to Molly. . . . I'm so sorry."
Hawthorn-MacDougall's father-in-law, also named Daniel Paul, then embraced the sobbing woman, who declined to give her name after the service. Hawthorn-MacDougall was raised in "a risk-taking family" committed to "caring for people who need taking care of," her mother said. "Sometimes the risks we took backfired, but we wouldn't let fear rule our lives. . . . To love is to risk. Molly would want us to continue loving," Hawthorn said.It was clear that we were certainly among people who marched, loved, mourned and sang..." in the light of God". They embodied the very words we Noonday Farm Singers sang in the South African freedom song, Siyahambe at the end of the service. On the way home I thought... how easy it is for me to hold principles and mouth ideas when there is no pressure, no test. How did those parents, siblings and friends find the strength to stand up for the life of their beloved and not give power to the shocking manner of her death? How many of us would find this enduring strength of love that would enable us to experience such deep loss and then not move from shock, to anger, to hatred ?
I am in awe. Their witness to the power of love and commitment to peace was beautiful beyond words. Everything we heard made it clear that this "Molly would want us to continue loving," was so true. A fitting send off to the soul of a beautiful young woman.