The funeral for Mariam Makhniashvili has taken place — a public ceremony on Friday, and a private one yesterday. Although she wasn’t a Charley Project case because she disappeared in Canada, I did follow it to a certain extent and blogged about her in my March 11 entry “Final Leaps.”
Mariam’s disappearance (now presumed to be a suicide, although not officially ruled as such) tore her family apart. Literally. Some months after she vanished, her father, Vakhtang, snapped under the pressure of it all and stabbed a guy whom he accused of being involved in Mariam’s disappearance. A sympathetic couple, strangers to the Makhniashvili family, bailed Vakhtang out of jail. He later stabbed one of them too. Of course this violent behavior lead to speculation that Vakhtang had also harmed his daughter. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to six years in prison. He isn’t dead, of course, but at least until he gets out of prison the family has to all intents been reduced by half: now it’s just Mariam’s younger brother, George Makhniashvili, and their mother, Lela Tabidze.
Vakhtang has reportedly behaved well in prison, but he was not allowed leave from prison to attend his daughter’s funeral. The decision was “partially based on Mr. Makhniashvili’s court-ordered psychiatric assessment.” He has a “delusional disorder” and I guess they think he’s (still) dangerous.
I can understand the authorities not wanting to take a risk with Vakhtang, but it’s still a shame that he couldn’t attend. The Makhniashvilis are immigrants from the Republic of Georgia and I don’t think they have any relatives in Ontario. They had been living in Canada for only three months. Mariam was shy, had no friends, spoke no English, and had attended school for all of four days by the time of her disappearance. Of course some of the teachers and students from her school showed up at the funeral and said nice things — the principal called Mariam “a wonderful student, a person who was highly introspective and highly sensitive and very intuitive” — but let’s face it, they didn’t know her.
In a sense, every grieving person is alone in their sorrow, but Lela Tabidze and George Makhniashvili must feel especially alone, surrounded by all these kind well-wishers, but no one who actually knew Mariam and could share memories of her childhood, her personality, all that she was.