New Book Documents Local Hate Crime Survivor’s Journey

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Photo credit above: Seven years after a neo-Nazi murdered their father and son, Mindy Corporon recounts her journey as a hate crime survivor in a new book called Healing a Shattered Soul. (Bill Tammeus | Flatland)

Mindy Corporon says, immediately after a neo-Nazi murdered her father and son outside the Jewish Community Center campus in Johnson County in April 2014, that it did so:

“There were times when I was so upset that I was lying on the floor. I couldn’t get up from the floor. I didn’t want to get up off the floor. Then there was the exact opposite when I would rebound. It was almost like I was bipolar and I’m not bipolar. But my feelings would just recover. It was that boomerang. “

Mindy Corporon, author of “Healing a Shattered Soul”. (Contributed)

This is the kind of mental and emotional mystery tour that hatred can cause. The fanatic who killed Mindy’s father William Corporon and son Reat Underwood was keen on Jews. Instead, he killed three Christians, including Teresa (Terri) LaManno in the nearby village of Shalom.

Now, seven notable years in which Mindy later tries to mend herself, she recounts all of this in a new book, “Healing a Shattered Soul,” which will be published May 3rd. In it, she takes readers back to the day of the shootings. But she then describes in extraordinary and often excruciating details what she needed to start her life again and to find a way to build something beautiful out of something so horrible and evil.

Since that deadly Palm Sunday, Mindy and others, including Jim LaManno, Terri’s husband, have launched the annual Give Seven Days events, sponsored by the Faith Always Wins Foundation and which she started with the help of others. This year’s events will be largely virtual and begin on April 13th.

Writing this new book was a painful ordeal for Mindy, and not just because she had to relive the murders.

Growing up, she explained, she was the “middle child of three”. I call it middle child syndrome. I felt like I didn’t have a voice. “

But when she drew on several years’ worth of magazines, on podcasts she did with family members and others, and on her own memories, “I found my voice. … I think the end result is an authentic description of everything that happened. “

And she discovered that writing can be therapeutic, but it can also be physically demanding: “My arms would hurt. It was a physical challenge for me. “Furthermore, she had to find a way to make the book more than just her personal story. She relied on the thoughts and memories of her mother Melinda Corporon and her brothers Tony and Will, as well as those of her husband Len Losen and her son Lukas Losen.

“It was difficult emotionally,” she said. “But I think it’s a better book because I picked up other people’s stories.”

Cover of Cover of “Healing a Shattered Soul”. (Contributed)

I felt particularly connected to Mindy in such a writing process because I went through something similar while creating my latest book, Love, Loss, and Perseverance: A 9/11 Tale of Resilience and Hope in Times of Fear. It describes the many trauma my extended family experienced from the murder of my nephew, a passenger on the first plane that attacked the World Trade Center in the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Because this type of writing can be physically and mentally demanding, strategies are needed to stay mentally and emotionally balanced. This means long walks, prayer, meditation, deep conversations with family and friends, a change of scene, or something else.

Mindy learned not to run through the writing or healing processes: “I’m more patient with myself now. I’ve never been one to be patient. Grief prevents me from participating in life, and it gives me more patience and far more ability to be introspective and to deal with things more calmly. I’m just more thoughtful about things. But I’m probably still a lot more active and faster than most people. “

Now that the book is due for publication, she said, “I think my father and Reat would be proud. And I’m really happy about that. I tried to write it the way my father would have helped me write it. I think he helped me write. I’m more proud of it than I expected. “

However, it was a challenge to make it and get closer to wholeness. She mentions in the book that she never really thought about suicide.

“I didn’t consider suicide. I didn’t plan it, ”she said. “But when my death happened, I was fine. There is that balance. I had to make sure that I was in a stable position around people who could support me, around people who were healthy, until I could get there on my own. It’s a very precarious place to be. “

She also recognized that healing her soul is a long process: “I am not complete and I cannot tell you if there will be a time when I will be complete. But I’m not sad about that. It’s okay with me not to be complete now. “

There is much wisdom in these words. One way to get there was to work hard to keep their marriage healthy, which required a move to Florida, which her husband persuaded her to do, “Our relationship is much stronger. Moving to Florida was absolutely necessary. I’m happy with Florida now and we’re in a good place. “

Mindy Corporon wants everyone who reads her book to know: “Everyone can heal. You have to keep looking for your way. God is going to bring people around you and you have to welcome them. … Everyone has a path to – I don’t mean to say, complete healing – healing enough that you can move forward and make a difference in your life and in the lives of other people. “

But healing – especially the mental, emotional, and spiritual – often requires a lot of help. Ask about it. Choose it. It is available. Maybe start with Mindys and my book.

Bill Tammeus, a former award-winning columnist for The Kansas City Star, writes the Faith Matters blog for The Star website and columns for The Presbyterian Outlook and formerly for The National Catholic Reporter. His new book, Love, Loss, and Persistence: A 9/11 Story of Resilience and Hope in Times of Fear, was published in January. Email to [email protected]

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