By Larry Rottman
Globe guest columnist
I’m sorry that I never go to know you; that I never got to be your brother, or your dad, or your granddad, or your uncle, or your cousin, or even your neighbor.
I’m sorry that the degenerates who raped and murdered you didn’t try to attack me instead, for two reasons. One, I would have been able to fight back much more vigorously, hopefully to the point of their deaths, and two, because at the age of 9 years, 6 months and 29 days, you’d only just started life, while at 65, I’ve about reached the end of my run on this Earth.
I’m sorry that you won’t be able to enjoy your favorite things anymore: purple lilacs, your blue bicycle, Hannah Montana and spaghetti.
I’m sorry you’ll never get to experience your most serious hobbies of singing, drawing and swimming, and that you’ve forever lost your dream of becoming a big-time pop singer, a famous artist or an Olympic swimmer.
I’m sorry your schooling was ended so abruptly and that you’ll no longer be the spark plug in Ms. Holt’s fourth-grade room with your classmates, and especially your best friend, Shania.
I’m sorry you won’t be able to attend the Stella Baptist Church where you were so active in Sunday school, Team Kids and Angel Food Ministries.
I’m sorry the world has lost the potential you had to become a mother, or minister, or lawyer, or doctor, or teacher or president.
I’m sorry you couldn’t witness your sad, but beautiful, funeral where 461 people gathered to tell you goodbye, including all of your family, many of your friends and schoolmates, plus hundreds (like me) who never knew you in life. There were people of all ages and colors: white, black, brown and yellow; from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and elsewhere, visitors who grew up in Mexico, China, Micronesia and beyond; law enforcement officers, soldiers in uniform, the Harley motorcycle group “Bikers Against Child Abuse” and many, many more.
I’m sorry you didn’t see the jam-packed pews, the visitors overflowing into the nursery and Sunday school rooms, and even those turned away for lack of room, standing quietly in the cold wind of the parking lot.
I’m sorry you couldn’t see the dozens of teddy bears, the profusion of flowers, the cards and letters sent from all over the country and the signed drawings by your school and church classmates.
I’m sorry you didn’t get to listen to some of your favorite music, including “I Believe in Angels” by Alabama, “The River” by Garth Brooks, “I Can Only Imagine” sung by your neighbor Connie Moser, and last of all, your favorite song, the one you often sang as you danced around the house, “The Old Rugged Cross,” sung reluctantly and through tears by the entire congregation.
I’m sorry you couldn’t hear the heartfelt words of love, and the baffled questions of “why?” directed to God and the audience by the Rev. Steve Moser, deacon Jack Shadwick and the Rev. Glenn Ellis.
I’m sorry that on the day of your funeral, millions of Americans — including many who attended your memorial service — paid millions of dollars to enjoy brutal murders in six of the nation’s most popular movies and eight of that evening’s top-ranked television shows, and that millions more bought or rented violent, murderous and profane movie DVDs, video games and hip-hop CDs, and that untold thousands surfed the Internet to view, buy and even make pornography.
I’m sorry that our generation and our entire country seems to have lost its way and that as a result we’ve now lost you, too.
I’m sorry you didn’t get to hear Shania’s goodbye poem: “God will hold you and keep you near, so please Rowan, do not fear. We love you dear!”
I’m sorry you didn’t get to hear your mom tell you “Goodbye, my angel girl!”
Dear Rowan, I’m sorry that all I could do was to attend your funeral, and that I, and the world, never got to know you. Goodbye and Godspeed.
Larry Rottman lives in Springfield.
By Larry Rottman