October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Did you know that?
We strive to save the boobies every year (and I'm all for it) but there isn't much said about the scourge of domestic violence in the world this month...and there should be.
Domestic Violence affects all of us.
More so, I think, than even Breast Cancer.
How many of us have known someone, feared for someone, helped someone, or even suspected that someone we know is in a relationship with an abuser?
How many men and women are still stuck in this cycle of abuse?
I lost my best friend. Christi.
My best friend was beautiful, funny, kind and loving.
She was a light and a shoulder and someone I loved purely and with my whole self.
We fought. We argued. We made up.
We loved each other. She was the sister of my heart. The sister I chose.
She was murdered, on April 16th, 2005.
She was 8 months pregnant with a little girl she'd planned to name Trinity and the mother of an 11 month old little boy named Jaiden.
She was strangled to death by her husband. The person who had vowed to love, honor and cherish her.
He cherished her to death.
He honored her by hiding her body and that of their 11 month old son, who he also killed that night, in a Rubbermaid container and pouring chemicals on them. Then he spent a week partying and smoking crock and sleeping with other women.
Sadly we weren't speaking at the time she was murdered. We were both at periods in our lives where we had had to make decisions that separated us. I was in survival mode for M and myself and tension was high, words were said.
We parted ways.
We'd done it before...but we had always done it knowing that we would see each other again. We would be together again. Christi and Shelley.
I'll never forget being woken up in the middle of the night by Husband-Man because he knew I needed to know she was gone. He had gotten a call while out working from another friend of mine and when he got home he woke me to tell me.
"Vanessa called. She saw Christi on the news. I'm sorry...Shelley, she was murdered."
Absolutely the worst words I've ever heard in my life. I wish I'd never heard them.
The amount of time I spent crying on the floor...wailing...praying...BEGGING God to give her back to me.
Just for an hour.
Just long enough to tell her I loved her and missed her and was so sorry for our falling out.
What I really wanted to do is go back in time and save her from him. I've never stopped wanting that.
I never will.
If she'd never met him, we would have made up and she'd be laughing with me every night on the phone.
She'd be here with me. Auntie Christi to my babies. Living our lives as we had always planned. Raising our children together. Going out on girls nights. Drinking wine and watching movies. Trick or Treating together with our children. Celebrating milestones all the time.
If I had saved her...But I couldn't. I didn't.
Everyone says that time heals wounds...and it does, I suppose...but not for me.
For me, as the years pass, I miss her more and more. I still wake up wanting to talk to her. I see someone with a body shape like hers, or a mannerism that she had and I ache with loneliness for her.
I have a really hard time with my birthday...because every year I get older and she doesn't. Nor is she here to celebrate with me. To tease me about the wrinkles I don't have yet. To look for the gray hairs I'm not yet sprouting.
Her birthday, I celebrate quietly, by myself.
She's not here to hug me. To sing with me. To giggle and laugh with me for hours.
She's not here for me to support, to love, to make laugh. She's not here for me to...well...she's just NOT here.
I think about her mother, Linda, all the time.
The number of times I slept over at Christi's when we were growing up are impossible to count. I wanted to be over there all the time. Linda was kind and loving and everything my mother was not. Both of our mothers were single mothers but Linda was so different. She knew her daughter. She was friends with her daughter and was genuinely interested in her.
I have a very vivid memory of Linda, Christi and I singing Light My Fire by The Doors and Linday singing it like Elmer Fudd. Christi and I just collapsed in a heap on the living room floor, giggling madly, while her cat looked on from the topof the TV cabinet in haughty disdain.
I can't hear The Doors without thinking of Christi. And Linda.
He stole Linda's entire family. Christi was an only child.
And I know that however much pain I feel, however much I miss my best friend, however much I long to hear her voice calling me a beaver again, to feel her arms around my shoulders hugging me, Linda must feel much much more.
I can't imagine losing one of my babies...I can't imagine the strength Linda must have, to bear it, to continue to advocate for Christi and her babies. To share Christi's story with other women in the hopes that they will hear it and be moved to help themselves or accept the help offered to them.
So...If you know someone, fear for someone, love someone...do something about it. Reach out to them. Offer them support. Help them in any way you can.
There will always be a piece of me that will wonder...If Christi and I hadn't parted paths at that time in our lives, would this have happened to her? Would I have been able to help her understand that his abuse wasn't forgivable? Could I have prevented her from marrying him?
I'll never know. I'll live the rest of my life, not knowing if I could have made a difference in the life of one of the most important and loving people I was blessed to know.
I love you Christi! More than infinity, forever and ever, until the end of time. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for loving me.
Shelley (aka. Beaver)