Passionate About the Community
and the Moms Who Live Here

May Love and Peace Find You: For Lara and Brendon

I’ve been waking up at 5:30 AM no matter what time I go to bed. I find myself unable to go back to sleep because I can’t stop running through my previous day and thinking about all of the experiences I had with my children that Lara Sobel and Brendon Cousino won’t get to have with theirs.

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Lara was killed while on duty as a Department for Children and Families Social Worker. Brendon was an Emergency Medical Technician for Richmond Rescue, who was killed while on his way to pick up a birthday cake for his daughter.   I can relate more to Lara, because she’s a woman and a DCF Social Worker, and so am I. But both losses are just as hard to swallow. We were not friends. We did not call each other to talk about our ups and downs. But I still feel pain.

I am angry. I am angry at senseless acts of violence. I am angry that our mental health services aren’t more proactive. I am angry that when our legislators cut budgets it always starts with those that are the most vulnerable. I am angry that people have such easy access to guns. I am angry that people make such terrible choices with such a disregard for others lives.

I am sad. I am sad that 5 girls have to grow up without their mom or dad by their side. I am sad that I can’t take their pain away. I am sad that our Vermont community lost two people who were actually doing something to make others lives better. I am sad that their spouses don’t have them to balance their lives out and that they won’t be able to watch their children grow up with someone by their side.

I am sorry. I am sorry, girls. I am sorry that someone took your parent away from you. I am sorry that you won’t have the experience of having your mom talk to you about your period or have your dad teach you to play baseball. I am sorry you won’t get to bake cookies together, or learn to knit. I am sorry they won’t get to see you in your next dance performance. I am sorry that they won’t get to cheer you on at your next track meet. Or comfort you when your first romantic relationship ends. Or watch you graduate. I am so so so sorry that nothing I say or do can make this loss easier for you.

As parents, we imagine these milestones all of the time. We think about supporting our kids through each measly momentous occasion of life. We should be there. You should be there. They should be there. It is not fair that they can’t be. But they won’t. Be. There.

However, we will all be there for them. We will hold their girls in our strong community. We will think of them when we are tucking our kids in. We will find grace in the grizzliest of arguments with our pre-pubescent girls. We will remember that they should be there, but that they are not. And in that, we will honor their lives.

And again, this makes me angry. It makes me want to scream and cry and rip the hair out of the heads of those who made this happen. But I won’t do that. I will sit here, at 5:30 AM and weep to myself, so that when my children awake, I can be there for them to have those experiences, that Lara and Brendon don’t get to have.

I will send loving thoughts, prayers, intentions into the world so that Lara and Brendon’s children will feel safe and protected and loved. And so that the sadness that they feel when their parent is not physically present during their milestones, is coupled with a feeling that the community of parents around them is cheering them on. And so that Lara and Brendon’s spouses can be comforted by the soft, warm arms of their community.

We are here for you. You don’t know us, but we are here. May love and peace find you all.

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29 Responses to May Love and Peace Find You: For Lara and Brendon

  1. Josilyn
    Josilyn August 11, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    Thank you Maggie for writing and sharing this. You touch on many of the emotions and thoughts I have but are too angry, sad, shocked to verbalize. I haven’t been able to leave my daughter since Friday because I keep thinking how fortunate I am to be with her. Lara or Brendon could have been any one of us. And all we can do is be here, think of them and try to come together around their children. The irony and senslessness of how they died make me the most angry. Again, thank you. I appreciate everything you do.

    • Maggie August 11, 2015 at 8:44 am #

      Thanks Josilyn, and you are welcome!

  2. Linda
    Linda August 11, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    Thank you – perfect. It is hard to remember that especially with the connectiveness of social media – we grieve for people we barely or do not know. We need to honor those feelings. Thank you again for the reminder. Peace.
    Linda

    • Maggie August 11, 2015 at 9:23 am #

      You are welcome. We are all so connected. Thank you.

  3. Tina August 11, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am a fellow Social Worker and knew Lara. I appreciated your kind and gentle words

    • Maggie August 11, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      You are welcome. Thinking of you during this difficult time.

  4. Suzanne August 11, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    Me too! I cannot get this out of my head and I ache more for my boys when I am away from them than I normally do. So sad, angry, and feeling helpless!

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

      It is quite painful. I keep trying to breath and keep sending thoughts, prayers and love to all of the family members affected by these violent acts. That helps me feel somewhat useful!

  5. Sarah August 11, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    I know Heidi and Brendon and am thankful that their story is having an impact on the Vermont community and those around the world.

    I am thankful for the truth in the Bible that states those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are not without hope in these tragedies. Heidi will be with Brendon again in heaven. Heidi and Brendon both have put their faith and trust in God and on the last day will be reunited.

    It’s in times like this that we much hold fast to our faith in God, that He works all things out for good for those who believe in Him–Romans 8:28. We can be angry in the moment, but we can’t stay there. This WAS God’s plan, it wasn’t a mistake or an accident. I find hope in God’s sovereign will and His control over ALL things. It doesn’t make these tragedies easier to understand, but we are able to accept them because of God’s faithfulness.

    l Thessalonians 4:13-18
    13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.[a]

    15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

      Sarah-I’m glad that you can find comfort and peace through your religion. Thank you.

  6. Sue Brown August 11, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    Thank you, Maggie, for putting into such eloquent words the turmoil of thoughts and feelings in my heart that sprung from these two senseless tragedies in our community.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

      You are welcome.

  7. Diane August 11, 2015 at 2:08 pm #

    While Lara was killed by a gun, it was not the “easy access to guns” that killed her. It was someone deranged. Hopefully, Vermont has background checks as does the state in which I live. Someone hell bent on taking the lives of others, will find a way regardless of the weapon/method they choose. She could have just as easily stabbed her, driven a car into her, etc.

    Yes, it’s right to be angry that Brendon Cousino was killed by a car? Should cars be banned, though? Was the driver who caused this horrific accident multitasking, on the phone, texting, or whatever? Or was there a medical event that the driver could not avoid.

    Accidents, and people who choose to take lives, are horrible. Having lost a parent while very young, it is good that these children and surviving spouses will have a community to help them. Unfortunately, there are no simple answers.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

      Diane-Absolutely mental health played a major role in Lara’s death-as well as Brendon’s. He was actually killed by someone who planned to commit suicide by driving into another vehicle. Although, we all have our opinions about gun control and whatnot, of course there is no simple answer. That is merely one of the things that rattles through my brain when I’m feeling all the feelings. There is never one thing. We never have the whole story.

  8. Mike August 11, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    What a beautifully written post Maggie. Thank you so much for your thoughtful words about two of Vermont’s heroes.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

      Thank you. Vermont was lucky to have had them.

  9. Lori Draper August 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Thank you for putting into words what many of us have been thinking and feeling. As a widow I know all too well the pain that is felt when your partner in life dies. Thanks for showing support to the family members that are left behind. Everyone needs support.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

      You’re welcome Lori! It just isn’t anything you expect to happen. I hope you were met with the same community of support!

  10. Linda August 11, 2015 at 6:34 pm #

    Beautifully written, Maggie.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

      Thank you so much!

  11. Denise Benway August 11, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    Let’s not forget the victim’s in the home in Berlin too, that were brutally gunned down also.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

      Yes. I totally agree. Someone reminded me of that earlier in the day. I apologize for not mentioning them. This post is not just about Lara and Brendon, but about anyone family that has lost a parent.

  12. Margaret Hartman August 11, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    Connecticut CPS staff also grieve the senseless loss of Lara. We pray for her husband and children, her co-workers and clients. We feel as if we have indeed lost one of our own. Although I had not heard about Brendon, I will also include his wife and children in my thoughts and prayers. May they both Rest in Peace and may all of their families and friends find comfort and peace in the support and love of their community.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 11, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

      Thank you. I actually am a social worker for DCF here in VT so the support of other CPS agencies, service providers and our entire, incredible community has been very much appreciated!

  13. Senga Thomson August 11, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

    I thank you for writing such a wonderful expression of your emotions.
    As a mother while I share some of the same emotions for what has happened.
    Being a Mom’s Blog..what I also want to convey is the empathy I feel for the mother who killed her children and DCF worker..I have been thinking of the deep pain this mother must have felt to have carried out such a senseless act. Can any mother fathom losing her kids? To anyone or anything..wether by conditions of the court..or by any tragedy.The pain and agony..despair and hopelessness..sadness and anger of not being able to be apart of her children’s life..left her selfish..not thinking of others but soley on her own wishes and will to either have them be in her life or not at all..The revenge and retaliation of the hurt she felt had been done to her..While I do NOT agree at all about what she did..to be justified or thought of as being correct..what I can identify with is the love she had for her children and the hopelessness of losing control of those children..she was at best..at complete despair..and desperation..without any mental defense about her actions..the pain and fear drove her to his horrific event.is my thoughts..Hard to believe any mother in there correct mind could have done such a thing..my heart goes out to this woman.My heart also goes out to the families who still have to exist with this deep pain of losing such people in there life.My hope is that all that were affected can find forgiveness in there hearts..and minds..to find some sense of peace.some love …and some faith in restoring mankind.

    Hate the sickness not the act of the sick.
    My wish for you all.. Peace and Love!

  14. Maggie VanDuyn August 12, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    Senga, thank you so much. I agree that she must have been in terrible pain. She did not kill her children, however, she killed other family members who she accused of reporting on her. Those women, also had children of their own. So I do feel very sad for all of the children-including the child of the shooter-who is now left with not only the previous trauma she might have incurred, but this additional trauma of knowing that her mother killed people. As a social worker who has had to remove children from their parents I have many times tried to put myself in their shoes. It’s impossible. It’s impossible to know that experience without having it. There is no doubt in my mind that the shooter suffered from major mental illness. Violence is never the answer. I hope that she is able to come to some sort of peace while incarcerated. But mostly, i hope her child is able to find a way to come to peace with this. For this certainly should not define that child.

    Peace to you as well!

  15. Kate August 12, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Thank you for this message that resonates so much for so many. As a Social Worker for Massachusetts DCF, of course I identify with Lara and have so many thoughts and feelings about this every day (and night), but I feel it the most deeply as a mother. My heart breaks for Lara’s daughters and I wish them every good person and thing they need to overcome this and reach peace some day in the future. I wish the same for the girl that Lara was trying to protect. And Brendon’s daughters (I didn’t know this story, thank you for including them). There is such a helpless feeling at times like this because there is little that a stranger can do to help, and nothing anyone can do to bring another’s loved one back, but we can show that we recognize their enormous loss and feel some measure of their pain and feel love for the ones left behind. Wishing you and your co-workers strength and resolve and great love to keep up this important work.

    • Maggie VanDuyn August 12, 2015 at 11:35 am #

      Thank you for your support!

  16. Carol August 14, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Thank you for your kind and comforting words that resonate in the state and country as a whole. May Brendon, Lara and the Herring women Rest in Peace. In my book all of them are heroes. May their families find comfort knowing their community and states stands behind them in their time of need. I thank you and your co-worker personally for keeping the children of Vermont safe. It is a very hard job, but it is necessary.

    Carol

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