The new Engelhardts teach us all

It's still such a struggle every day. This horrible, lingering recession becomes such a drag on us. We're unemployed, or underemployed, or our loved ones are. We're still having to do so much more with so much less. It's so tempting to lose hope. To wallow in the deep trough of feeling sorry for ourselves. That's where we were and have been a lot lately. And then came a reminder that was like a jolt to the senses. Look at the Engelhardts of Hoffman Estates. Look and learn.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Jamie Sotonoff shared the inspirational story of Shelly and Amanda and her daughter, Stelliah, and Jeff Engelhardt nearly one year after three of their dearest loved ones died after police say Amanda's former boyfriend attacked them inside their own home.

Shelly and her husband, Al, her teenage daughter, Laura, and her mother, Marlene Gacek all were stabbed. Al, Laura and Marlene all died and Amanda's former boyfriend D'Andre Howard is accused of carrying out the slaughter.

And here is Shelly, on Easter Sunday a year later, with her remaining 21-year-old son and 24-year-old daughter and toddler granddaughter smiling out at all of us.

"We've had to become a new type of family. A new us. We're the new Engelhardts," Shelly told Sotonoff. "I like to think of it as a new beginning."

So many of us have struggled lately and so many of us live through searing loss and unending pain. A new beginning?

Can you imagine saying that if you were Shelly Engelhardt? Neither can we.

Half her family was brutally murdered inside their own family room and still 53-year-old Shelly pushes past a sadness that threatens to consume her and, instead, she speaks of renewal.

Shelly lost her job just before the murders and cannot find a new one. She wonders aloud if the crimes somehow tainted her with prospective employers, but there's no trace of bitterness.

The Engelhardts have no health insurance as a result. They endured the outrageous indignity of answering the door the morning after Christmas to find a Cook County sheriff's deputy who served them with papers saying they owed $39,000 for the cleanup of the murder scene. The county and insurance companies still are wrangling over the bill. Something should be done both to resolve that bill and ensure no one else has to experience anything like that ever again.

Can you imagine answering that door? Can you imagine still living in that house, with the memories of all of that horrible violence and death because you have no alternative? Can you imagine handling it with such amazing grace?

"I know God will take care of everything," Shelly Engelhardt said. "I've put it in the hands of God, and so far, he's been handling it."

What fortitude. Simply, we say, thank you, new Engelhardts, for showing us what rebirth may be.