20 Apr Why my daughter’s safety matters more than her mess
In the early hours of March 29th in Columbia, South Carolina, a young woman got into a black car outside a busy bar. According to news sources, Samantha Josephson thought she was hopping into the backseat of an Uber. Instead, the responsible, young woman looking for a safe ride home, made a fatal mistake.
Kidnapped and murdered, Samantha’s life was stolen in the most reprehensible, inconceivable way. She was twenty-one. She was completing her degree in political science at South Carolina University. She was starting law school in the fall.
I learned the devastating news when I came home to find my own daughter in tears. She was watching haunting, online footage, caught on surveillance camera. Samantha is seen grabbing the door handle and getting inside a Chevy Impala that pulls up to the curb. The images are the last of her alive.
My girl is also twenty-one years old. She is a university student, nearing completion of her undergraduate degree. She has her heart set on law school. She is the kind of kid who might leave before a party is over, who might assure her friends she’s fine getting home alone, who would hail a ride rather than drink and drive.
Earlier that evening, before I came home, I had witnessed a wonderful event that filled me with nostalgia. Overcome, I texted my daughter to tell her what I’d seen: a young mother strolling the sidewalk in the sunshine, happily chatting with her little boy while she pulled a wagon, a tiny girl with teeny pigtails seated inside. As the wagon bumped along, the mother stopped, bending to help her daughter, whose grip on an ice-cream was precarious. She adjusted the napkin wrapped around the cone, and smiling, handed it back to her child. With that simple gesture, I flashed back twenty years. I saw myself with my son and his little sister, soaking up the early rays of spring, rejoicing in the warmth with a cold treat. A bittersweet pang gripped my heart. Where had the time gone?
I told my daughter how the little girl with the wispy, blonde hair reminded me of her at that age; the chatty little boy, her brother. My daughter replied, “Aww, that is so cute! I love you, mama.”
Then I came home and found her crying. Grieving for a girl she didn’t know. She was outraged at the injustice, the way women, in particular, must be vigilante. She saw herself—and every one of her friends—in Samantha.
I cannot fathom this loss of life, the gut-wrenching grief for those who loved that beautiful young woman. Not long ago, she was small enough to fit in a wagon. Now she will never grow all the way up.
What I can do, is hug my children everyday they are home. I can tell them I love them. And I can forgive my daughter when she leaves three glasses, two mugs, and a bowl in her room; when her laundry piles up and she absconds with my clean towels because she has none; when the dishwasher remains unloaded and I start clanging cups into cupboards, muttering, “When are these kids going to move out?”
I can fall on my knees and thank God my beautiful daughter is healthy and alive and becoming educated while she learns how to make her way in the world. I can breathe and do my best to remember how sacred this time is, how lucky I am to watch her grow and grow up.
Soon she will leave me, and I will miss hearing her singing from upstairs as she packs for a long day of school or gets ready for her part-time job as a server in a busy restaurant; as she applies makeup with an artist’s hand, carelessly dropping clothes all over her floor before rushing out the door.
What I can do, is pray for healing and grace for Samantha’s family and loved ones. And I can pray for me. Please let me not take for granted, the glory of this day, the magic of every moment, with my girl.
Note: The first step in ensuring your driver is safe is to ask, “What’s my name?” before getting into a ride-sharing car. Uber and Lyft offer functionality in their apps that allows riders to share their trip with five of their contacts and to access 9-11 services. Check out