The following piece by Laurie Toupin of Brookline, NH was published in the Nashua Telegraph on September 27th, 2014.
The Brookline community lost a beloved teacher at CSDA Elementary School last week. She was allegedly murdered by her son who then turned the gun on himself. No one is sure of the motive. Nor does it really matter at this point.
Elizabeth Trombly was a wonderful, kind soul whose life was devoted to helping the students of our community. She was always ready with a warm smile and a nurturing, motherly spirit. She will be missed by many.
No matter what one’s religious conviction or affiliation, everyone struggles to make sense out of these situations and find a solution that will at least bring a moment of peace.
When I am confronted by such a tragedy, I find myself turning to a higher power, which I call God, who offers a sense of love that enfolds and comforts not only those who are left behind, but I am sure, those who have gone on as well.
I like to hold to a letter that a woman named Mary Baker Eddy, the discover and founder of a religion named Christian Science, wrote to one of her students who had just lost her husband:
“Your dear husband has not passed away from you in spirit; he never died, only to your sense; he lives and loves and is immortal. Let this comfort you dear one, and you will find rest in banishing the sense of death, in cherishing the sense of life and not death. Your dear husband is as truly living to-day as he ever lived, and you can find rest and peace in this true sense of Life.” (From Mary Baker Eddy: Christian Healer, Fettweis and Warneck, pg. 219.)
Sometimes it may be hard to feel or recognize a higher power’s presence and help, especially in the face of irrational human actions.
Especially since this death, which has left many in the Brookline community in shock, is only the most recent in a series of similar situations which seem to be affronting American culture.
These situations force such questions as: How do we detect those who may need help before they hurt themselves and others? How do we help them? How do we help the families of the one who has been diagnosed?
The only answer that comes to my mind is love: love that goes beyond ourselves to first notice, then actually reach out to those who are struggling and need help.
But this isn’t a love that we need to cultivate. The Bible says that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. It also says in I John 4:16, that “God is love.”
And if God is love, and we are His image, then we also are capable of expressing and feeling a higher sense of love that blesses everyone we come into contact with.
Mrs. Trombly lived this love through her interactions of all the children and teachers and parents with whom she worked.
And her son as well, who from all accounts, was intelligent and good hearted, but had fallen upon hard times, was loved “unconditionally” by his mother.
When tragedy happens, nobody can make sense of it. There is no rhyme or reason. Evil has no face, no purpose, no rational motive. But there is something that does make sense, especially to those left behind — that is a sense of love that never dies. A love that heals all hurts — the love of God, which fills all space and all consciousness.
Love won’t bring her back to us physically, but God’s love is able to comfort those who were touched by her so that her life may be celebrated and remembered.
May we continue to feel and express that love which she lived.
In the words of a hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal, #30:
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life;
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part.*
* words by Mary Baker Eddy