05/02/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

When a Community Mourns

On Friday, a senseless tragedy took place in our community on the West Side of Los Angeles. Julia Siegler, a 13-year girl, was killed when she was hit by two cars while crossing a street to catch her school bus. Her classmates on the waiting bus and her mother witnessed this terrible event. I have watched with sadness as our community grapples with this loss.

I have seen the ripple effect of incomprehensible grief touch those that knew her, but also the senselessness and sadness overwhelm even those that just read or heard about her sudden death. This young girl touched so many people with her existence - her smile, her dance, her love of the color purple, her vibrancy. My daughter had but one interaction with Julia - while Tara was in Kindergarten, Julia was her 6th Grade buddy and mentored Tara, giving her friendship, confidence, and security. That small interaction - perhaps less than one hour - helped create a foundation for friendship for Tara that will last a lifetime. Julia's life - as indicated by a flood of messages on a Facebook memorial - her unique gift of compassion, demonstrated that each of us plays an important part of an intricate web of life where we affect people in ways we cannot imagine.

And so the community mourns. A street side vigil filled with flowers and teddy bears. A memorial attended by over 1500 people. Signs on Sunset Boulevard asking people to "Slow Down for Julia". Students holding each other, wanting to be with one another. Teachers crying as they remember a young, vivacious student. Friends and family supporting her parents with unimaginable loss. A community coming together, mourning, but also strengthened by the loss of one of its own.

People grappling, some alone, others just yearning for a connection, to understand the "whys" to a question that may not have any answers. Those universal emotions and questions asked by people around the world, no matter what their religion, ethnicity, or background.

The reality is that every day there are meaningless deaths. Children dying of hunger or disease, freak accidents, suicides, deaths from mistaken raids in war torn areas. Every day, people are faced with suffering and loss of loved ones who are torn away from them. And, somehow they survive, often with lots of tears and lots of pain.


To read more articles by Mallika Chopra, visit

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