If Oprah ever asks what one thing I know…

She stood across the table from me unable to speak. A catch in her throat, she said. You see, I read your other book, A Silence of Mockingbirds, the one on Karly Sheehan. I started following your blog. It was such a powerful book. Can you tell me, she said, pausing again, tearing up: How is David?

He’s good, I replied. Liz is in med school, working on her pediatric oncology degree. She is beautiful and the light of his life.

Do they have children?

Readers of A Silence of Mockingbirds always want to know that about David.

No, not yet. But they hope to one day.

What about Shawn Field, did you ever meet with him?

No, I said. I don’t even know if he is living or not. He was sick, very sick with cancer, and other horrible ailments.

And Sarah? Do you ever hear from her?

No, not her directly but I have been told that she married and that she may have had another child.

They always seem stunned by that answer.

I understand it completely.

It’s a hard book to read, the librarian who is also an assistant coroner told me earlier that same day.

Yes, I understand.

Hard because it brings back so many cases that I have seen over the years, the children who died from the similar sort of abuse Karly suffered. They came back to me in a rush as I read about Karly.

I am surprised you could keep reading, I said.

A Silence of Mockingbirds is my favorite non-fiction book, said the bookseller who was hosting events on Saturday for my latest book. Not favorite in that I enjoyed reading it, she explained. Favorite in that it is so well-written that I will never ever forget Karly.

Thank you. Giving voice to Karly’s story was what enabled me to tell such a hard tale. Just this week I received a note from a teacher across the country who had read the book a year ago. A child had dropped something in her class and when he bent over to pick it up she noticed the bruises splattered across his backside.

She did not talk herself out of what she saw. She did not interrogate the child. She did what she should have done. She reported it to her principal who then did exactly what she should. She brought the boy in and found numerous other signs of physical abuse. She called the police who conducted an investigation and then the mother was arrested.

It is not your job to investigate I tell audiences across the nation. It is simply your job to report it. Be a voice. Remember Karly. Say something. Speak out loudly and often. Make sure legal authorities investigate.

One more question, please, said the lady at the table across from me.


Did Karly really pray to go home to be with Jesus?

I don’t know. We only have Sarah’s word for that and who knows how reliable that is? She did testify that Karly prayed that the morning that she died. That she wanted to go home to be with Jesus. Sarah testified that Karly woke with a headache – from the concussion, you know – and that instead of calling a doctor, instead of taking the wounded child to the Emergency Room, Sarah took her into the bedroom where Karly was denied even the luxury of sleeping in a bed but instead was forced to sleep on the floor and prayed for Jesus to heal her daughter. And Karly prayed to go home to be with Jesus because that would be so much safer than being in her own mother’s care.

So, I’m not sure, but I suppose it’s likely that Karly really did pray that prayer as Sarah said.

But Jesus didn’t take Karly. Shawn Field murdered her.

Plain and simple. Karly’s death was not an answer to prayer.

Jesus welcomed her into heaven but he did not bring about her death.

Demons of darkness did that.

The demons Shawn Field partnered with as he unleashed hell on earth.

If Oprah ever asks me what thing I know, I’m going to tell her that I know Jesus loves the little children.

#30DaysofThankfulness Remember you can help bring clean water to children. Click here. 

Day2: Thankful for the readers whose hearts have been broken wide open by Karly Sheehan.

Quote: “Let us be outraged, let us be loud, let us be bold.” Brad Pitt




About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • Samantha Clough

    I’m doing a child abuse and neglect training this week for afterschool staff. I will share Karly’s story so they understand why it is so crucial to stand up for our kids. Thank you for fighting the good fight, even when it breaks your heart.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Has Jesus ever come down and rocked a baby when the mother was psychotic from lack of sleep? I think not! The righteous religious seem to assume that all pregnant people have back-up parents, but I don’t see them giving up their “worship” time to come tend the children that they have shamed unwilling mothers into bringing to fruition.