Running in memory of Connie Furtado
I returned in 2018 at her 40th year anniversary, in 2019 at her 41st, and 2020 for her 42nd. Forty-two years ago, Connie Furtado, age 11, was brutally raped and murdered when walking home from school. Forty-two years ago can still seem like yesterday.
I lived on the island then. I was in high school, also walking in the afternoon when I was raped and my life threatened in January 1978. I reported this to the police, but my attacker wasn't caught in time. A few weeks later, Connie was raped and murdered.
Several months after my assault, I graduated and moved back to the States. I figured I'd never return to Bermuda again. Deep inside I buried the trauma.
A few years ago, while taking classes about grief and post traumatic stress, I started processing my pain over Connie's loss. I decided I wanted to honour her memory and her life.
I signed up for the Bermuda Triangle Challenge in January 2018, printed and laminated her picture, and wore it for the Front Street Mile, the 10K and the marathon.
In 2019, I returned to “carry” Connie in the Triangle Challenge again. This time, I connected with some of her classmates. We all shared our grief and sense of regret with each other — had we done something different, could she have been saved?
Horrible regrets, not rational, were painful nonetheless. A few weeks ago, January 2020, I returned for my third Triangle Challenge race. Once more, I carried Connie's picture with me.
People at aid stations and along the course recognised me from the previous year when they saw Connie's picture pinned to the front and back of my shirt. I stopped and shared with any who love, miss and remember her. I have three years of race finisher medals that someday I'd love to give to Connie's family.
After the marathon, I drove past Paget Primary and down the road where she walked home that fateful day. I visited the site where her life was tragically cut short.
I saw her memorial bench for the first time, designed and installed last year by her classmates of long ago. I held my picture of Connie, held the race medals earned in her memory, sat on her bench, and remembered. I felt close to her. I'll be back next year, Connie.