It took my niece.
It took my sister’s entire being.
It took a baby I lost by miscarriage ten days after we found out.
It took two marriages.
It took peaceful dreams and replaced them with nightmares.
It took our sense of security.
It took the faith we had in people doing the right thing.
It took the air from our lungs.
It took our free spirits and left us with a heavy darkness.
It took normalcy and gave us chaos.
It took ME.
It took me from everyone who loved me.
It took me from my friends.
It took me from my job.
It took me from smiles to tears.
It took the relationship between an aunt and niece I always wanted.
It took me away from my own children.
When this all happened, I changed so drastically. In an instant, I was an entirely different person. I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other.
I couldn’t eat.
I couldn’t sleep.
I couldn’t think.
I couldn’t keep track of time.
I couldn’t follow a conversation.
I couldn’t remember things once engraved in my memory.
The sparkle in my eyes was replaced with a glossed over daze. All these things have stayed with me since then and I have to pray through it and force myself to be strong no matter how much I want to crumble.
It hurts me so much that my kids essentially lost their mom in this madness. A mom that took care of her family with an eager and loving heart. I cooked, cleaned, ironed, baked, planned the best parties, handmade costumes, read stacks of books, always took such good care of the kids and their friends. I surprised them with goodie bags and balloons at their school on Valentine’s Day, took them on picnics, helped with homework, took them on weekend outings, had regular slumber parties, all while working a full-time job. One day it was smooth like butter, and the next it came to a screeching halt. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I started getting terrible headaches, my body was constantly achy, I didn’t want to see the sun, I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted to crawl in a hole and pull the hole in after me.
My daughter was 9 and my son was 6.
Fast forward 9 years, my daughter just turned 18. The last nine years have been an enormous struggle. The day-to-day has taken every ounce of energy I have left. I’ve had to talk myself through everything I do and remind myself that although I am fighting this huge battle, I still need to be the mom I once was when all was right in the world. I still have desserts to make, museums to go to, games to cheer for. I can’t break down and cry in front of them because then they’ll fall apart. I have to get them through something that I can barely get through myself. I tell them that God will make it right someday. I pray us through long nights and emptiness. I remind them that love is the strongest force.
They’ve gotten me through this without holding it against me that I almost gave up. They’ve reminded me that there is always hope. They’ve held me when I felt like I couldn’t go on for one more second. They said so sweetly, “mommy please don’t cry.”
They were so little, trying to understand a grown up nightmare. A nightmare we still can’t make sense of. By her “parents” demands, they weren’t allowed to see my niece or have contact with her. They made sure to break their little hearts as they did ours. It didn’t matter that they were innocent children. They act as if my niece just dropped out of the sky and had no one who loved her and needed her. Complacent, just like Lupita.
Every time I got home from a visit, they asked me endless questions, wanting to know every detail. I had to swallow with a lump in my throat and when we finished talking, I would go in my room and bang my head against the wall with tears streaming down my face. Until this happened, I never realized that more than one tear could fall at a time. They literally poured out until my eyes were puffy and sore.
Despite having only seen her in pictures their love for her remains unbreakable. They still miss her, still think of her, still wonder about her, still have pictures of her in their bedrooms. They await her return with a love that will never fade. So young, they’ve shown courage beyond words.
I’ve tried to balance the world despite being weak in the knees from heartbreak. I’ve done my best to make them smile as I hold back tears. I just want them to know that I for everything I couldn’t manage and the times I came up short, I’m truly sorry. I hurt so bad that I literally prayed for God to kill me just so I wouldn’t have to feel this any more. The burden of heartache is that heavy and profound. Their love made me realize I had to find a way to survive this. I’m sorry that our lives were ruined, I’m sorry that this left us with a million pieces to put back together. If I could give them back all the time they deserved, I would.
I owe them everything for getting me through this, for not letting me completely unravel. They took care of me when I was stuck in a trans. They brought me soup when I needed to eat. They gave me the time and space to grieve even though they were hurting too. They’ve been so strong and understanding, patient and loving.
I want them to know how much I love them and how thankful I am that they were there for me, and still are. This ordeal robbed them of so much yet they saved me ….
Monique and Josiah, I love you more than words can say. With a sincere heart, I truly thank you.