I'm not much for assigning meaning to happenstance, but an encounter on a bridge named for a murdered child is enough to give one pause, if not hope. It happened Sunday, as more than a hundred bikers stopped to pray on the Jennifer Short Memorial Bridge in Rockingham County. Back in 2002, someone took the lives of nine year old Jennifer Short and her parents. Michael and Mary Short were murdered in their home, but it took investigators six weeks to locate Jennifer's remains in a creek alongside the very bridge that now bears her name. I was there that day, but you didn't need to be on scene to be haunted by this senseless killing of an entire family. Nearly a decade later, the case remains unsolved, despite numerous new leads resulting from a profile of the case on America's Most Wanted. For local folks, the only thing left to do is keep the Short family's memory alive. That's what was happening Sunday when reporter Katie Nordeen looked up from a memorial service and saw a royal blue butterfly hovering over her photog's tripod plate.
It landed at the beginning of the prayer and just sat there opening and closing its wings until they started playing the bagpipes. I'm a big believer in "signs" and I'm hoping this is one of those...A chance landing by a flying insect? Probably, but I was a sailor long enough to think about the transmigration of souls. While the cynic inside me knows it was nothing more than the thoughtless loss of flutter by a gussied-up moth.... Katie and I choose to believe otherwise. Now go hug your kids.