Why my daughter’s safety matters more than her mess

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

Share My Trip (Uber) and Send ETA (Lyft).


This column originally ran in the Kelowna Daily Courier, to read that version click here