Ann of 5,000 Days
Tonight, I helped my granddaughter get ready to attend the homecoming dance at her high school. It was a joy to be there as I watched her transform from a jeans-clad teenager to a glamorous young lady in a matter of hours. It was simply miraculous—a butterfly moment, indeed. It’s the beginning of her sophomore year, and she just turned fifteen last month. I had to smile as I watched her grandfather maneuver his camera to catch her at just the right angle, adding to the hundreds of photos he’d taken of her over the 5,500 days she’d been a part of our lives. Tonight, we were blessed to capture a special moment in her life.
I couldn’t help but think about another fifteen-year-old, Ann Marie Harrison, whose untimely and violent capture would forever freeze her in time. Ann, too, had just celebrated her fifteenth birthday the prior month, but her 5,500 days were cut short when she was kidnapped from the end of her driveway as she stood waiting for her school bus one early spring morning. In a matter of hours, she would be assaulted, tortured, killed, and discarded in the trunk of a stolen car. There would be no more memorable moments for that innocent young girl to share with her family, which breaks my heart. Yet, thinking about Ann and the similarities and contradictions of two very similar teenage girls momentarily spun my world off its axis before righting itself and putting life back into perspective.
It has been my privilege to document her story in my book, By the Side of the Road, which will be released on September 27, 2022, by Wild Blue Press on Amazon.com. wbp.bz/sideroad Chronicling the events that surrounded this case which rocked our entire community was not without its challenges. However, to do justice to Ann and the Harrison family has been tremendously humbling, an honor I hope my readers will find I have earned.
They say that timing is everything, and I would like to believe that the timing of a young girl’s homecoming dance and this book launch may not be as coincidental as it might appear. What one puts out into the universe can manifest itself in strange, often remarkable, ways. Perhaps by giving Ann Harrison a voice at this particular time will help to keep her memory alive. It brings to mind a line from a song by the group, Five for Fighting: “When you’re fifteen years old and you only have 100 years to live…..”.
May that be said of all fifteen year olds.