Posted on Tue, Oct. 16, 2007 10:15 PM

Kansas City Star

Greg Clark: Grim news changes focus of hope … now for peace

For some, the pain will fade just as surely as the memories will become fuzzy.

For others, the pain and memories will remain as vivid as a Halloween horror, sending their lives down paths they never envisioned. And the memories will never be fuzzy.

People no longer are wondering whether Summer Shipp and the Porter children, Sam and Lindsey, are still alive. In recent weeks, we’ve all received the jarring answer.

Now each person will learn just how the life-and-death question has touched his or her own life. These two cases stand apart in the public’s consciousness because of their nature and national attention they received.

For some, the stories represent just a couple of more bricks in an ever-rising monument to crime victims.

For others, casual acquaintances of the families, the stories are more personal. These people will grieve over the loss, hurt for a while and eventually move on.

For close friends, family and loved ones, only God’s grace, and perhaps time, can ease their pain.

The Porter children’s story represents every parent’s worst nightmare. Two adorable-looking children, with all of life seemingly ahead of them, instead were killed and buried in the dirt of Sugar Creek. Over the next three-plus years, their mother, Tina, constantly reminded us of their absence.

I’m leaving Christmas ornaments for them to hang.

This would have been Lindsey’s ninth birthday.

Their father, who was convicted of kidnapping them to terrorize their mother, drew little sympathy. To the contrary, loving parents could only wonder how a parent — no matter how bitter in his marriage — could take away his children and then offer tall tale after tall tale about their whereabouts.

Tina, meanwhile, suffered plenty — and publicly — as she sought to keep the children’s plight in the community’s consciousness. At some point, nearly every parent must have looked upward and thanked God that they never had experienced such pain.

In some ways, the aftermath of Summer Shipp’s disappearance was similar. Only in this case it was the child, Summer’s grown daughter Brandy, who did the most public suffering. Vigils, special searches and the hiring of a private investigator testified to her pain.

The face of Summer, who once owned a Westport movie house and was involved in numerous social circles, was plastered on fliers, billboards and buses. Though a lot of people offered theories, nobody provided solid information on her fate. As the years passed, Brandy continued to harbor hope, just as Tina had done.

Now, with the discovery of bodies, they must turn their hope into another direction. They can only hope that God will bring them — and their loved ones — peace.

As for the rest of us, all we can do is pray and mourn with them.

To reach Greg Clark, call 816-234-7803 or send e-mail to