What do you say when a friend assumes you know his niece was murdered by a serial killer and brings it up sort of casually?
The question is rhetorical, because there is no correct answer. At least not one that springs to mind at the moment it is happening.
It was just an odd conversation for me yesterday – and I’m guessing for him too. I had only called to wish him a good trip to Spain and South Africa, as we hadn’t talked for a few months.
He had been getting ready to go on his trip, making sure insurance information was all updated, things at work were taken care of , etc when he gets a call from the History Channel wanting to interview him regarding the events leading up to and after the event.
My friend, who will obviously go nameless here, was just taken aback. His niece was murdered approximately 30 years ago. Her father is dead and the girl was estranged from her mother. My friend was the next family member in line who was around. Unknown to me, he was interviewed by Dateline 10 years ago regarding the same incident. Maybe that’s why he thought I knew this. Clearly 30 years is a long time to heal, but there must be a gut-punch feeling or scab being ripped off when someone calls you out of the blue on this.
And not to diminish her death or his pain, but has the History Channel so run out of things to broadcast that they are doing an hour special on this guy? I didn’t mention the killer is from Nepal and the murders happened in Nepal and Thailand. I don’t know if he is up for release or what the deal is. Has everything been said about Nikola Tesla that could give him another 60 minute slot and not provide a killer any more notoriety?
But going back to my original question – I had such a lack of response due to not knowing what to say exactly. “Sorry” doesn’t cut it. My jumping off point was, “I’m sorry – I don’t think we’ve ever had this discussion”. Luckily, he’s a talker and just kept going about the history of what had happened and how he was feeling, I didn’t need to say much. I was there as a sounding board and happy to do it. As Dionne (the singing skull), Elton, Gladys and someone else sang: ‘that’s what friends are for.’