IT'S been nearly a month since 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick leaped to her death from an old cement factory tower in Lakeland, Fla.
Polk County police said the girl had been the victim of a non-stop campaign of cyberbullying via social media by at least 15 of her peers.
She had already been pulled out of one school to escape her tormentors, was home-schooled for a time, and finally transferred to another.
For a while, it seemed everything was OK, and though her mom had done her best to monitor her daughter's online activities, it wasn't enough.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters, "We can see from what we've investigated so far that Rebecca wasn't attacking back. ... She appeared to be beat down."
Rebecca's was a disturbing tale, which I found to be a pity and a shame and an outrage.
How could anyone be so mean as to mercilessly and endlessly bombard a beautiful child with messages like "Why are you still alive?" and "Go kill yourself"?
I read one account of the tragedy and saw that Facebook and Twitter users had recommended others. To borrow some digital age lingo, Rebecca's sad story was trending all over the social media.
As the days went by, though, I did as most journalists probably do when a troubling event intrudes upon their consciousness — I locked it away in a little box in my mind with the hopes that its sharp heartache would be dulled by time and buried under whatever senseless tragedies would inevitably follow.
Life went on. Work. Family. Home. My immediate concerns can't be kept at bay for very long and I went back into triage mode.
About a week later, I learned that Rebecca's mom, Tricia Norman, is my sister-in-law's cousin.
The lid to the box had been cracked open.
Suddenly, this wasn't just an event that had befallen some poor parent.
Now my family was not far removed from a disturbing phenomenon of our times. Tricia Norman's loss was more closely my own.
I have a 1-year-old girl who my wife says has me wrapped around her finger. And, of course, she does.
As such, I'll have to confess I also believe she's the prettiest, smartest, sassiest thing in the whole world.
Every day it seems I'm watching her personality come into being. I can see her strengths and tendencies that are distinct from her brother's. She's nosy, like him, but much more observant. I'm afraid she's doomed to become a reporter.
She's all toddler now and loves to chase me down and say "Gotcha!" as she embraces me in a tiny hug.
I hold her little frame against mine and try to memorize my child being small enough to wrap entirely in my arms.