Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Without Love

I started to write a long-overdue blog post about something completely different than this—about the usual: my life. I'll write that post next time, but not right now.

My former colleague at Modern Maturity magazine, Marcia Forsberg, has been missing since February, and her husband of 39 years has just been arrested on suspicion of murder. The police are searching the Lake Piru campground area in Ventura County, California for her body, based on "incriminating statements" her husband, Rick, made to the detectives. They think he killed her in their home in February and rented a car—rented a car!—to transport her body elsewhere. He then stayed in their Orange County home for the next six months—six months!—and told neighbors that she'd gone to Arizona to visit friends.

We've all seen these stories on the news, on CSI, on Without a Trace, on Law & Order, on Bones, on Mystery. I've never seen this kind of story flash on the screen with the face of someone I know. I'm not processing it.

I watched the bleached-blonde reporter end her story by ominously intoning, "And, neighbors say, Richard Forsberg had recently taken up...fishing," and I thought, "This is some kind of bizarre satire."

Marcia—pronounced "Mar-SEE-ya," because she didn't do things in a typical way—was tall, striking, with big curly hair and a constant conspiratorial smile. She was what you'd probably call touchy-feely, a woman who believed that her experience with breast cancer had taught her invaluable lessons, and who found the good and the humor in most situations.

She and Rick had no children, just each other, and from what Marcia always said they loved it that way. I had the impression of mutual, even slightly obsessive, devotion.

Modern Maturity moved from California to Washington, D.C. in 1996, and our work group broke up. A few of us met for occasional lunches and catch-ups, but I hadn't seen Marcia in years. But I can hear her voice, see her leaning over to me (I was 8 inches shorter) to share an observation or a mild piece of gossip and laughing richly.

Even if the police get answers, they'll never get the answers I want. I don't mean to sound naive, but how does this happen? What goes on in a nearly 40-year marriage between high school sweethearts such that it ends not in divorce, but murder? Who is this man, and where did the guy go whom Marcia loved and trusted?

I'm sorry, Marcia.


Cindy Judge Lucido said...

Thank you for your beautiful memorial piece on Marcia. I've know both Marcia and Rick since I was 2 years old. She and Rick have been a constant part of my life sharing in all milestones good and bad. I can't comprehend that he caused this tragedy to be their destinies. My heart is broken and I miss my dear friend.

Susan Champlin said...

Cindy, thank you so much for writing, and I'm so sorry for the loss of your, our, dear friend Marcia. I think there's a big community of us who can't comprehend any of this.

Janet said...

Susan, my thanks as well.

All of us who knew Marcia and Rick here in Rancho Santa Margarita are in a state of shock.

I just finished writing a tribute to Marcia in my column, Round the Rancho, which is published every Friday in The Rancho Santa Margarita News. I am indebted to Marcia, for it was she who told me that the then-columnist--a friend of hers--needed to move on, and would I be interested in applying for the job?

As someone who also considers the Great Kate a personal icon, the idea of the similarly vibrant Marcia being murdered by her life's partner and presumed sole mate is beyond hideous.

Susan Champlin said...

Janet, thank you, and I can only imagine the horrifying shock this has been to your community, where I imagine Marcia was a bright light. If there's an online version of your column, I would love to read your tribute to Marcia.

marsha miller said...

Oh, my dear Susan ... friendships are what we count on. I am dreadfully sorry for your loss. Your puzzlement over this is so very understandable. As is your sorrow.

Karen said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Susan. A couple of years ago I learned that a dear old college pal had been murdered by her "boyfriend." Just today a friend forwarded me a news clipping about the man's sentencing. There's still just no way I can fit this kind of information into my brain, my world.

Michele Hush said...

This is one of those tragic, jarring occurrences that shifts the boundaries of reality and fantasy. I'm truly sorry for your loss of your friend, and also for the loss of a more innocent view of the world.

Susan Champlin said...

Marsha, Karen and Michele: Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful comments.

Karen, I'm so sorry for your loss, as well—and I know exactly what you mean. It doesn't fit into any picture we had of our lives, our friends, ourselves. As Michele says, the innocence of that vision is lost.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your lovely and touching column.

Marcia and Rick lived across the street from me and, although it had only been two years since we moved in, I felt I had known her forever.

Marcia was a unique individual - hard to explain and impossible to forget.

Everyone who knew Marcia and Rick describes them in the same way - loving and devoted...I can't get my mind around this horrific event.

I will miss you Marcia!

Susan Champlin said...

To Marcia's neighbor: "Hard to explain and impossible forget" is an excellent way to describe Marcia—thank you for that. I'm so sorry about the devastating loss and shock your neighborhood has suffered.

Janet said...

Hello again, Susan.

My column is supposed to be online but at present we're having some of those "technical difficulties."

In the meantime, if you'd like I can email the copy. Please feel free to contact me at whitcombjl@juno.com.

Miss Whistle said...

Dear Susan,
What an awful, awful story. How do these things happen? I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend.
Miss W