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Living the Change

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When I logged on to the Internet this morning, my news channel home page confronted me with this headline in large font: “Killer of mom, 2 daughters gets death sentence.” Ugh, I thought, how awful on so many levels. As I read on, I was horrified to learn the details of the case. In 2007, two men broke into the Connecticut home of William and Jennifer Petit. They severely beat William, strangled Jennifer, and killed the couple’s two daughters by tying them to their beds, then setting the house on fire. The girls died of asphyxiation. William somehow managed to escape and is the only survivor.

I began to wonder about William. How has he been able to manage his loss and the memories of that awful night? Even with my utter belief in the power of the human spirit and resiliency, I could not see how he could come back from this nor could my shocked mind find any gifts in this horrendous event. 

O, me of little faith.

I ran an Internet search on William Petit. Among the many articles about the murders, a link popped up that said “Petit Family Foundation.” I clicked on the link, and as the site opened, I gasped. The site, which emanates light and love, is centered on a slideshow of the Petit family before the tragedy. My gasp, however, came from the quote next to the slideshow: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mohandas Gandhi.

How could this be? How could William Petit have the presence of mind and heart to create this foundation of change from such an act of evil? I read further on the website:

The PETIT FAMILY FOUNDATION website is designed to provide a complete portrait of who we are, what we do and why it is important to continue the memories of JENNIFER HAWKE-PETIT, HAYLEY ELIZABETH PETIT and MICHAELA ROSE PETIT. They were taken from us far too soon, but we are determined to honor their memories and to continue their many acts of kindness and activism.

With your help we can promote opportunity for young women, continue the fight against chronic illness and extend a blanket of comfort for others affected by violence. A change for the better does not just happen. We need each and every one of you to help fulfill our mission; you will all help to be the changes that JENNIFER, HAYLEY, and MICHAELA wanted to see in the world.

The PETIT FAMILY FOUNDATION tries to do as many good actions as possible to counteract the evil that truly exists in the world today. We feel that we all must make a commitment to do what we can to make this world a better place.

Incredibly, William Petit, his father, and other family members have taken this horrific incident in their lives and are making sure only good comes of it. They are living the change that they want to see in the world.

William is a long way from being completely healed. He told a reporter, “It’s a hole with jagged edges,” he said. “Over time the edges may smooth out a little bit, but the hole in your heart, the hole in your soul is always there.” Although he may never experience the total healing for which his soul longs, William has made the conscious choice to bring light to the dark, healing the wounds of so many others around him.

May the edges of that hole in your heart grow smoother every day, William Petit, my new resiliency hero.


One Comment

  1. admin says:

    What a great story and incredible inspiration!
    Thanks for sharing it!

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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.