1 year.

Today marks the one year anniversary the death – the murder – of my classmate and friend. She was a victim of intimate partner violence. I’m wearing the purple pin today, the same one I wore at her funeral.

There hasn’t been a single day in the past 365 days that I have not thought of her. Her death was a shattering blow to my little world.  I have been lucky, I suppose, not to have yet experienced a sudden, unexpected death in my circle, let alone, a murder.  The world has since felt cruel and unfair and unjust.  When my youngest son smiles, giggles or cries, I think of her youngest. My heart breaks into a million little pieces thinking about that little boy who is the same age as mine and is now growing up without his mother.  When I look at my 9 year old daughter and how she is growing and changing, I think of her two girls, aged 13 and 9 and my heart breaks a little more.

I’ve attended the preliminary hearing of the man accused of killing her and seeing him makes my skin crawl, my blood boil and the rage I feel is unlike anything I have felt before.  Her immediate family cannot attend as they are witnesses, so I try to go when I can.  It is a painfully slow process and I wish it would go faster.  We all need some closure.  Sadly with the state of our justice system, that closure will not (has not) come quickly.

I have read accounts of the families of victims of murder eventually being able to forgive the killers. They are stronger than I can ever be.  I will never forgive that man for what he did to my friend, to his children.   But I know that anger and rage is unhealthy and can eat away at me so I try to keep it buried and I run it off when I can.

She enjoyed running.  She would find the time to comment on my posts about running on social media and every now and then a memory will pop up and I’ll see a comment from her. I can’t lie, it helps ease the pain in one sense, but re-ignites the rage in another. I honestly don’t know how her family is coping, I know they have to push forward for the children, but I wish they didn’t have to. No one deserves this kind of living hell.  No one.

I don’t think I’ll ever quite get over this loss.  I wish I understood why it has affected me so much.  We hadn’t physically seen each other since graduation but with social media, I knew enough about her and “followed her” that I felt we were still connected.  She reached out to me a few times when she moved back to the city and we were pregnant at the same time, but we never found the time to reconnect in person. I think I will always, always regret that. I do know that I need to forgive myself for that.  There was nothing I could have done or said, had I known about her situation, that her closest, trusted friends and family, hadn’t done or said already.

I’m mad at her too.  God, it feels awful to say it, but it’s true.  Why did you stay with him? Why didn’t you run away when he hit you the first time?  Why didn’t you listen to your friends and family then? It could have been all so different.  You might still be alive today.

Fuck.

 

I ran another little race.

Last weekend, I ran a little race in my hometown along with 25,000 other people.  I ran this one before, back in 2015.  It was a half-marathon.

My training cycle took a huge nosedive in August when I ran too much while on vacation at the cottage.  When I returned to running in the city, my legs were very mad at me.  The nagging shin splints returned and I had to take a big break. I ran only once a week for the last month before the race.  I was petrified that I wouldn’t be able to finish, let alone finish it standing up.

The longest training run was 16 km and I did that 3 weeks before the big day. My friend who is a triathlete told me that it was better to be 10% under-trained than 1% overt-rained. She ended up being right.

Race day arrived and I was a nervous wreck.  I arrive on course early to support a new friend of mine as he completed his 5th (of 6) marathons of the weekend (that story is for another post).  See, I joined this running team last spring, supporting someone who raises money and awareness for childhood survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.  Through this team I have met a group of remarkable people all who like to run.  Most of them run a hell of a lot faster than me, but they are an inspiring group of people and I am lucky to have found them.

I ran with one of these new friends for my half marathon.  He was running the marathon and didn’t want to go out too fast, so I asked him if he wanted to run my pace with me and he did.  We had a fantastic time. It was so nice to run with someone and be distracted from the fact I was trying to run 21.1 km.

In the end, I ran a good race and I felt great. Sure, my hips started getting tight at 9 km and the balls of my feet starting aching around 17 km.  All of that was expected.  Nothing actually hurt too badly, so I knew I could finish it.

I ran it for me – to challenge my mind, body and spirit.  I didn’t beat my previous time but I knew I wouldn’t.

I was almost in tears when I finished.  I just wanted to cross the finish line standing up and I did.

I ran for my dad.  He has prostate cancer, and the previous week we got word that his radiation treatment worked and he was cancer free.  I raised $500 for Prostate Cancer Canada prior to the race.

I ran for my classmate, colleague and friend who was murdered last year by her husband.   I wear the purple armband that I wore at her funeral.  I will wear it for every race until her murderer is convicted.  My friend was a runner.  She always supported my running on social media. I ran for her because she can’t run anymore.


 

 

 

Haunted.

Her image is burned in my memory.  Smiling and appearing happy.

How do you reconcile that image with the next one of her coffin being lowered into the cold ground?

How do you move on when a colleague, a classmate, a friend, a mother is taken from this life in a moment of violence?

How do you stop thinking and imagining what those final moments of her life were like? Did death come quickly? Did she suffer? Was she afraid?

How do you honor her memory when now the focus is on the man accused of her murder? Purple arm bands and purple pins just seem so futile.

How do we ensure justice is served?