I always believed in karma. Bad job, bad boyfriend — it was fine. They were all going to get their just deserts (and I spelled that right — you are wrong) because that is how the world works.

Except that isn’t how the world works.

I got a call yesterday morning from my mother. My aunt (well, technically speaking, my great-great-aunt) had been the victim of a home invasion and homicide in Poughkeepsie, where she’d lived all of her 99 years. Of the few details released to family, none were good. All were incredibly upsetting. As information is released in the coming days, I know there will be more hard phone calls and restless nights. And questions. There will be so many questions.

I had never been exceptionally close to my Aunt Fannie. My grandmother’s aunt, sometimes we’d go out to lunch when I was in Poughkeepsie on a college break, but as my trips upstate have become fewer and further between, so have my visits with her. I didn’t know her well, but I knew her to be kind and loving and generous. And she meant so much to the people who mean so much to me.

When my mother called yesterday, I knew something was wrong. Nobody calls in the morning unless it’s to deliver bad news. Good news comes in a text or a Facebook post. Bad news, without fail, comes in a morning phone call. I learned that lesson when I was 14, and my mother woke me up to tell me that my grandmother on my father’s side had passed away overnight.

Within months of my grandmother passing away, two planes hit the Twin Towers, and my grandfather, a Brooklyn resident, saw up close what many people only experienced on television. A few years later, I’d regularly stop for a night at his house in the city on my way upstate from college. It was during those trips that I really got to know my grandfather. I remember one trip, maybe I was 19? 20? He told me that after my grandmother died, after 9/11, he didn’t believe in anything anymore. His faith was shaken, then gone. I didn’t understand. In hard times, during trying situations, people cling to faith, to some belief that there is good and justice in the world. Short of a burning bush or an AMA from up above, that faith is all we have.

But now mine is gone too. I don’t understand how such evil can exist in this world. I don’t understand what happened to my Aunt Fannie, because bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. In a world I’ve believed for years to run on karma, on good things happening to good people, and on the bad ones getting what they have coming to them, I am left with nothing. My hands are empty, and I’m grasping at everything I can to try and find something, anything, that makes sense.

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