Molly Fisk: Candlelight

I went to a candlelight vigil last week in support of Domestic Violence Prevention Month. We were honoring both the idea of ending this kind of violence, and a specific tragedy: a woman in our town was recently murdered in her home. I didn’t know her. Before she was killed, I had never heard her name. But this being a small town, I knew the social worker who was on duty at the hospital the day she died, the one who talked to her friends and devastated family for hours. And I knew the sister of a friend of the woman’s brother, who picked him up at the airport when he arrived to face the aftermath of this terrible situation.

I knew hardly anyone at the vigil, which surprised me. Last spring I spoke at a vigil in support of Child Abuse Prevention Month, and I knew hardly anyone there, either. On any given night around here, you can probably choose between ten important and interesting things to do. Still, I was a little startled to be in a crowd of strangers, and I was sad that my closest friends weren’t with me.

Given my own experience with domestic violence, I’m not that comfortable mingling with people I don’t know in the dark, and several times I thought of leaving. What kept me there weren’t the testimonials given over a scratchy sound system, nor the earnest but unintelligible middle school choir. What held my attention, unexpectedly, was beauty.

I hope some time you’ll get a chance to see 200 candles stretched over three city blocks. The faces of the people who carried them were lit from below, haloed in reverse. We walked slowly up a small hill, around a corner through town, past closed store-fronts, open bars, the movie theater’s bright marquee, and back down a side street that wasn’t well-lit, skirting a municipal parking lot. Once we got past the ambient light, we looked like pilgrims walking the Camino in Spain, or believers at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

We looked like what we were. Just humans. A temporary community. In our sweaters and jackets, our blue hair, plaid shirts, and wool scarves, our pierced tongues and work boots. Old and young. Female and male. We looked like hope and sorrow and thoughtfulness and confusion. Like despair. Like companionship. Like resignation. Forgiveness right next to unforgiving.

People walked arm in arm or single file. Some talked and some were silent. Some wept. Some laughed. The local cops looked after us when we overflowed the sidewalks and spilled into the street. Many moms had brought their daughters. There were grown men there, and teenage boys. Lots of girls and women. Little kids playing tag and shrieking.
And one sweet three-year-old who held her mother’s hand the whole way and never stopped singing.

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  • l gibbons December 17, 2017 at 10:30 am

    a perfectly beautiful story. Very touching

    • Molly Fisk December 17, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      Thank you.

  • Jeanie December 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Molly, You’ve described this in such a way that we can walk along with you and be almost equally moved. Thank you.

    • Molly Fisk December 17, 2017 at 2:41 pm

      I’m glad, Jeanie. You’re so welcome.

  • Mickey M. December 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you, Molly, for sharing this. Thank you, also, for sharing that you, too, experienced that phenomena of abuse. what a world.

    • Molly Fisk December 16, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      Yes, what a world. All of it. <3

  • Deb Lundstrom December 16, 2017 at 11:11 am

    The most beautiful thing I’ve read in a long time. I’m sorry for your community and the family of that woman, and the others scattered everywhere around the world. You are inspiring, Molly, and I wish you a beautiful holiday season and wonderful 2018.

    • Molly Fisk December 16, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Thank you so much, Deb. Much love to you.