Saturday, May 9, 2015

Anniversary of a Tragedy

This post should have a disclaimer: Not for the faint of heart.  Violent, horrifying incident below.  Don't read if you can't take it.  I am writing it as my own kind of therapy.

Four years ago, May 9, everything about my life changed.  My mom called bright and early (my first clue something was seriously mom is not a bright and early kinda gal.)  Her words didn't even make sense.  My dad was a couple hours away on business (Oh my...this was pre-dementia).  My mom said she needed me to hurry and pick her up.  "We have to go to the hospital because Kelly hit Megan with a baseball bat."

Megan was my 20 year old niece.  Their granddaughter.  Kelly was her father.  Is her father?  Does he get to maintain that title when he did that to her?

We talked as we drove the long 10 minutes to the ER.  "This must be a mistake."  "If he DID do that, it was an accident."  When we arrived, the staff told us the family was in a private waiting room.  Uh oh.  In that split second, before even entering, I knew it was true.  I knew it was bad.

The question I am always asked...Kelly, the he my brother?  No.  Technically Megan was not blood-related to my parents and me.  But she is the half sister of my brother's kids.  You know how family goes.  Blood doesn't make them family, love does.  She was my niece.  She was my parent's granddaughter.

Most of the rest of that day is a bit blurry.  Thank God.  I have enough details that have stuck in my brain, I don't need the others.  I do remember being told she was beaten in the head and was unrecognizable.  I remember the neurosurgeon telling us he would do his best to save her brain and skull.  I remember a few hours later when he came back to say it didn't go well.  The word he described for her skull was "pulverized."  I remember making a few phone calls, trying to explain this unexplainable event.  Police.  Her friends and family arriving.  My dad saw her before the surgery, along with her mom.  He was always strong about those things.  I truly hope that one bright spot of his dementia is that he doesn't remember that moment.  I am too scared to ask him.  I remember coming home and falling apart in Brad's arms.  Like I couldn't stand and he had to catch me.  I don't mean crying.  I don't mean sobbing.  I mean FALLING.  APART.  While my children watched.  I couldn't help it.  I don't know if they remember that part. I am too scared to ask them.

I don't need to write about the gory details.  They are forever burned into my she looked with half a skull.  Even when some of the lesser wounds healed, she looked awful.  I can see that now in hindsight.  But at the time, when her head was all wrapped and she wasn't bruised anymore, we made the decision that our girls should see her.  She was about to be going to was all set up.  This would be a part of our life, visiting and helping Megan.  So, yeah.  They saw her.  If I could take back anything I have done in my entire life, it would be that.  So on top of the awfulness of the beating and death, I have the enormous weight of guilt.  This ain't your typical "Mom Guilt," let me tell you.

It was almost 3 months later when she passed away.  There were so many surgeries.  A horrible infection that meant we had to wear gowns, gloves, masks to protect us.  There was a move to a more specialized hospital. There was an outpouring of love from friends, family and the entire community.  This story was, unfortunately, on the news and in the papers.  It was oddly comforting to have strangers post their kind words on the Facebook page for Megs.  (It was also freaking unreal when a few of them somehow found me on FB and messaged me, asking for details of the crime.  What.  The. Heck.)  There was a wonderful woman from Kensington, our church, who never met any of us before.  Didn't know Megan.  But she came and sat for hours a week with Megan and prayed over her.  I am telling you, most people would run away in tears to see a person in this condition.  But not Janet.  That was a good thing that came out of this.  To see how good some people are and try to forget how evil this man is.

I was MIA as a parent for those 3 months.  Even when I was home, I wasn't present.  I don't even know how everyone got everywhere and how/what they ate.  Just pile on a little more guilt, it doesn't even matter at this point.

Funerals are not fun.  Funerals for young people are just indescribable.  It was a nice service, but seeing all her friends, who just seemed like was a bit much.

On that day, May 9, we basically lost Megan.  Because she never regained consciousness.  But we lost Kelly, too.  He was her dad and was a part of our life.  He was the only dad my other niece and my nephew knew since my brother died when they were just babies.  He was our loved one, too.  He may be physically alive, but that day, we lost him by choice.  This was a hard thing to deal with, too.  Just a couple weeks earlier on Easter, he and Megan sat together on our deck and watched all the little kids play on our trampoline.  At this point, I don't care about the loss of him in our life.  But at the time, it was a strange and difficult thing.  When someone you care about commits a horrendous crime, well, it was something I had never experienced before.

For the past 4 years, we have endured  the effects of this.  To lose a 20 year old relative is never, ever easy.  But the circumstances of her death, her murder, it's just unbearable.  My children were too young to process this.  There has been much therapy around here for us all.  I don't doubt there will be more to come.  There is all the typical grief stuff...thinking about the things she will never do, never see.  That we won't see her again on this earth.  Add to that the fact that she was brutally beaten, survived in a horrendous state for 3 months, all at the hand of her own father, and you can maybe begin to feel our pain in your heart.

I still struggle with this event and my faith.  Not in the way you might think.  I never thought "God, why did you let this happen?"  My struggle is more about what God thinks of me. Because I have had some dark thoughts about Kelly.  How can I be a good Christian and hope with all my being that someone dies because I hate him?  I am working on this, and I don't have those thoughts too often anymore.  In fact, when I think about the fact that he was beaten in prison and sent to the infirmary, I have no pleasure.  I don't feel sorry for him, I just didn't feel happy like I thought I would.  So maybe that shows some promise for me.

We lost something else that day.  The childhood innocence of our girls.  This was the kind of story I would have hidden from them.  I was never really a news watcher, but I would not have let them know that this kind of evil exists in the world.  Now I couldn't hide it.  How do I recover from everything he has stolen from me?  I am still figuring out if it's even possible.

There is so much more in my head about this situation.  I can't even explain why writing this helps me.  It's like it builds up inside and I will explode if I don't get it out.  It's a relief to do so. 

Now I just want to stare at her gorgeousness for a few minutes, if you don't mind.  She was beautiful, inside and out.  Megs will never be forgotten!