An Open Letter to the Community of Long Prairie
I didn’t want to write this because I didn’t know if I would have the right words to say. But at this point I’m not sure it’s the right words that are needed. Maybe it’s just any words that let each other know things will all be OK. Eventually.
Last week our little town was struck by a tragedy. Barry and Carol Bennett, two prominent members of the community, were met with an untimely and unfortunate death, with the prime suspect being their own child.
I didn’t know Carol on a personal level, but from all Barry told me, he had a wonderful, supportive, and loving wife with a huge heart.
I did know Barry. I was his teacher’s assistant in high school. I started every single day of my senior year with Mr. Bennett, helping him run a gym class of freshmen students. These kids were just like any incoming freshmen. Scared to death of being in a new building just trying to learn the ropes, and Bennett took the time to connect with each one on a personal level to make sure they were doing OK, and asking if he could help them in any way. The same thing he did with every class and student in the school.
Even post graduation he was always checking in on students. I would get calls from time to time and I would always pick up the phone to the phrase “Abb, it’s Bennett. Just checking in and making sure life is treating you right. That boyfriend of yours better be too!”.
And he did that with so many students. After this week’s tragedy my social media feeds were filled with posts of heartbreak. Fond memories were shared of the positive impact that the Bennett family had made on people’s lives.
That outpouring of positive stories is what made me proud to be from Long Prairie. In light of all the bad that happened, the swirling rumor mills, the media hounding the law enforcement, all the heartbreak, we were still sharing the good. We were liking, sharing, supporting, and praying for each other.
Once the next news cycle begins, the media will move on to the next big story, and we will still be left with the heartbreak. That doesn’t leave with the cameras and news vans. But the benefit to a small tight-knit community is that we can all lean on each other for support, as long as we keep that positive and loving mentality we had when sharing stories of the deceased.
Yes, we lost two people well before their time. But now is the time to follow in their footsteps. The Bennett’s set an example of what a loving, helpful neighbor should be, and it is now our turn to be that light in the community and the world.
Sending internet hugs to each an every person from Long Prairie. We will get through this.
Note: Funeral arrangements have been made for Barry and Carol.