* I am now spending a short time writing in the UK. Recently my local paper ” The Cheshire Herald ” was sent to my new address and in the obituary column there was a large picture of Hayley Petit with a remembrance for her birthday. Once again I was washed with emotion. I am so glad not to be living there right now, reliving every moment of that nightmare. It disturbed me driving by the house that Joshua Komisarjevsky lived in every day, several times a day. I don’t know how Dr. Petit can relive this over and over again. I thought while we waited for the fate of Joshua Komisarjevsky to be determined I would run this again. I envisioned myself lost in the cliche of suburbia; a doting husband, 3 kids, a dog and cat, all living harmoniously in a town that was a Maybury RFD. That is what brought me to Cheshire CT. We have open space, green grass with Dads mowing on Saturday afternoons, and fields with gentle rivers outlined within cobblestone walls. The joke around town was that every road had a 25mph speed limit because we had no crime. Now when people ask me what it is like to have a killer living one mile away, I shudder. The word spread quickly on the 23rd day of July, 2007. I was driving in my car when my daughter’s cell phone rang. It was a friend living out of state that had just heard the news. A home invasion at 3am, the mother and her two teenage daughters repeatedly raped and assaulted. Jennifer Petit, the mom, forced to withdraw $15,000 at her local bank. She pleaded via note with the teller, to send the police. Once she was brought back to her Cheshire home by Steven Hayes, the two criminals raped her, strangled her, and burned her body. Her girls were tied to the bed posts, repeatedly raped and assaulted and the house was set on fire. Their father Dr. William Petit was tied in the basement, beaten beyond recognition. He managed to escape but not in enough time. The house went up in flames. The police arrived too late. [pullquote]That night my husband was away. I slept with all four children in my bed. The house was locked, the alarm was on, and I drifted in and out of sleep with my cell phone under my pillow and a knife under my bed. It would be years before I would sleep through the night and not wake at 3am with tears in my eyes and terror in my soul.[/pullquote] The people in town prayed for a motive. A haneous crime such as this couldn’t have been random. In the end, there were no ties and no purpose. They had been randomly stalked the night before at our local grocery store. It could have happened to any one of us. Now all were dead, but a man who lost his family and was sentenced to carry out the rest of his life reconstructing the crime. I did not know Jennifer Petit. I didn’t have to. She was a mom. She was the one walking her baby in the carriage. She was one staying up until 3am, watching her child’s fever to make sure it didn’t go higher. She was the one teaching them to tie their shoes. She was the one who told her children they could when everyone else said they couldn’t. She was the one who vowed to protect them. Five months after the crime, hundred of volunteers lit luminaries on every street in an effort to find hope in the midst of the darkness of this tragedy. Lights of Hope has generated over $250,000 for MS in Jennifer Petits’ name. If one were to look in a photo of the Petit’s home the first December of 2007, they might see the girls’ shadows in the trees. However if one were to look down, they would see that in a cold night, on the dark streets of Cheshire CT, a light of hope radiates below. In the open space with the green grass and the gentle rivers, the Petite girls never left us. How could they? The live on in the hearts of the mothers, the children, and the fathers who think of them and pray for them every day.