Soft music plays overhead. The colors on the wall — teal, yellow — are gently energetic. A man sits in a plush chair, petting his dog, whose toenails peck softly on the smooth wooden floor. Outside, over the front door, the word love is stenciled into stained glass.
This is the Lululemon Athletica store in Bethesda, and a year later it still doesn’t make any sense that such a peaceful, spiritual place — one that capitalizes on spiritual peacefulness to sell “breathable” $100 yoga pants — could be the scene of such a brutal murder.
A year ago, Brittany Norwood killed her co-worker Jayna Murray inside these walls. Norwood will spend the rest of her life in prison, and the people who knew and loved Murray will spend the rest of their lives asking why — why is she gone? Why did this happen?
No motive came out at Norwood’s trial. There have been allusions to shoplifting on Norwood’s part and of Murray confronting her about it. But stabbing and bludgeoning someone over a shoplifting allegation? Striking more than 300 blows? Crushing her skull? Severing her spinal cord?
There are no answers. There never will be.
There is only, as time goes by, remembering.
Sunday morning, Lululemon held an open house to remember Murray, whose picture in a heart-shaped frame rests against a wall near the dressing rooms. Her friends dropped by. Old co-workers. Bagels and cream cheese were served, coffee sipped.
In the front window there was a beautiful flower arrangement with the letter J in deep red. Her brother Hugh, in town to run an 8K race with his wife in Murray’s honor, arrived shortly after 11 a.m. He stood by the flowers and told me how hard it is to think about what happened a year ago.
He was in Iraq, serving his country, when Murray was murdered. The other night he stopped by the store after it closed and looked inside to see someone cleaning up. The lights were on. “It was eerie,” he said. “If I would have been here a year ago in the same spot I could have helped her.”
Meanwhile, Murray’s parents were standing around her grave back home in Texas, remembering. Then they were going out for Mexican food, Murray’s favorite. She loved Mexican food and she loved adventure and she loved running and she loved yoga. She loved the peace yoga brought her. She wanted to work in Lululemon’s corporate headquarters after finishing her master’s degree.
“Jayna loved this store,” her brother said.
He then drifted away from the flowers, into hugs.