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.

 

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?

 

Facing the Void

My brother and I had a long talk the other day about our parents.  He has positioned himself to be their power of attorney for finances and I am their power of attorney for personal care.  In the past year, it has become evident that we may need to start exercising our roles.   I can’t tell you how sad that makes me.

Growing up, my father was larger than life. He was a tall, formidable man with a deep voice but he was for all intents and purposes, a gentle giant.

Over the past year or so he’s become impatient, occasionally verbally aggressive toward my mom and is forgetting things.  He was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment last fall but his condition seems to have deteriorated in the last 3 months.  He has a much shorter fuse now and asks my mom to repeat things several times a day.  He denies feeling depressed but we all think he is. Thankfully his family doctor suggested a trial of a low dose antidepressant and he actually agreed.  

He will be having an brain scan soon. I fear it will be normal.  Why? Because the thought of watching him continue down the road of dementia is heartbreaking. It would frankly be much easier if he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I don’t think I could bear the day he forgets his grandchildren and then me. I don’t think I can watch him become aggressive and angry and frightened at his memory loss.  I see it already happening with my maternal grandmother. 

And there’s the kicker: dementia on both sides of my family? What does that mean for my brother and me? Are we destined for the same end?

We talked about all of it. Dad won’t want to go into a nursing home when the time comes. Will I have to have him declared  incompetent and take over as POA?  If dad moves into a nursing home, mom won’t be able to stay in the condo; will she live with me or my brother or alone in an apartment?  How long are we going to have to watch him deteriorate? He would never want to live like that. I certainly wouldn’t. 

I fear the road ahead. 

Of the Heart and Mind.

I had a dream last night which has deeply unsettled me. It was about someone I knew for decades but we had a falling out a few years ago and haven’t spoken since. In this dream we were talking and putting things back together and it felt good. My friend was different. I was different. Our conversation was open, honest, without any egos. In my dream state I felt whole again, not realizing that I had an emptiness to fill.

I woke up early this morning to run with a girlfriend. It was 6:10am and I surprisingly felt quite refreshed and eager to start the day. I could feel the cool morning breeze coming through the window and my world seemed right.

As I searched in the dark for my running clothes, the memories of the dream flooded my consciousness.  Suddenly, reality set in and I remembered that nothing had changed.  In that moment I realized it had all been a dream. None of it was real.

I felt profoundly sad and instantly defeated.

Damn the heart.

Damn the mind.

Sometimes I wish I had done things differently.