Category: Grief (Page 2 of 2)

A Tale Of Two

When Chelsea King went missing, we (as I am sure all area residents did) felt dismay and concern. Bear and I (as well as MacD, Nannygoat and Mr. Vixen) were hit especially close to home. That is our field. That is our place. Yes it’s a community field, but it was our community field. My children grew up there. Learned to fly kites there, played softball there, hiked the trails with our dogs there, Gram and Gramps took Ladybug to the park there every Saturday morning for years, we celebrated birthday parties there. My first time trying roller blades was there, as was my first big fall off roller blades. The boys had epic paint ball competitions there. Lloyd proposed marriage to Nannygoat on the trails near the waterfall. This was a place of many years of joy and activities for us.

Between Bear and I, Bear was absolutely convinced Chelsea had fallen on the trails and was hurt. We know the trails and it can be rough terrain in areas. Falling into a culvert, being unable to get out seemed like the obvious and only scenario to Bear. Being young, healthy, full of faith and innocence; she was so sure. I was hopeful this was the case, but not certain. A sick feeling in my stomach, mother’s intuition maybe, or just a sense of foreboding.

When they called for volunteers on Saturday morning, despite the pouring rain, Bear and I suited up in our best hiking gear, purchased two rain ponchos and headed off. By this time, my brain was entertaining the thought that she hadn’t fallen. That she wasn’t lying somewhere hurt and waiting to be found. Bear’s faith, however, remained untouched by the length of time and the fact that 100s of deputies had been searching for days and not found her. As we fought the traffic jam near the search HQ for nearly an hour, we noticed volunteers beginning to walk away from the area instead of towards the check in point. We asked several of them what was going on. It turned out too many people had shown up for the search. All volunteers were being turned away for now. We were asked to come back the next day.

Then someone was arrested in connection to her disappearance. Details were sketchy, but for certain they had found an article of her clothing and DNA linking to convicted sex offender. My heart sank, as reality set in. Bear would not give up hope that Chelsea was out there somewhere still. Possibly hurt by this man, but fighting on and just waiting to be found. She had to work the next two days, so we were unable to join the search. But during those two days, our lives were rocked by more revelations.

That Saturday night, they released some details about the man being held in connection with the case. His picture was all over the TV. As was the address at which he was living. This wasn’t just our park, this was our neighborhood. That home was just two blocks from our home of ten years. Fishboy’s mother lives a scant few houses away, as does his aunt’s family. Nannygoat walked past there on a daily basis during the years surrounding his first conviction and she was 14 years old at the time; the same age as his victims. Less than a block from Bear’s elementary school, where she walked to and from 2nd-6th grade. On Sunday morning, Sparkles came by to help with a shed Mr. Vixen is building. He also had news. Apparently when his pregnant girlfriend had watched the news the night before, she had recognized the man being held. Her sister called her and confirmed it. She allowed me to read some of her court papers. You see, she was one of the girls who testified at his preliminary hearing 10 years ago. She was one of his victims. Thank God, not one of the victims who were so badly beaten that resulted in the crimes he was actually charged with. She was one of the “lucky” victims, if there is such a thing, who got away. Still, she was wounded emotionally and the fear of testifying during that time still haunts her to this day. So haunted, that she had never shared with anyone but her family. You see, we know her because she lived in our neighborhood. These are our kids who were hurt. It could have been my daughter, they are nearly the same age. Sadly, during those two days, one last revelation was revealed: that the suspect had lived not far from the high school where Amber Dubois had disappeared during the time she went missing nearly 13 months ago. I felt this was too much coincidence. We had just moved into this city when Amber had gone missing and I had tried to join in that search also.

The day of our search efforts dawned chilly, but clear. Bear was now certain we were looking for a body. Certain of this myself, I wondered what they would have us do? Certainly they didn’t want a bunch of volunteers tromping through possible crime scenes? We were assigned to a group, given a leader and our leader was handed a grid map of the area we were assigned to. It wasn’t any where near the park or the trails. It was actually near where Amber Dubois had disappeared some 13 months ago. Turns out we were not searching for a missing 17-year-old girl on this assignment, but for the possible remains of a 13-year-old girl who had been missing for over a year. We were instructed on what to look for (bones, clothing, shallow graves and such) and what to do when we found something. I listened with stunned disbelief. What am I doing? Can I do this? What if we find bones or a grave? Could I handle it? Could Bear handle it? Our group gathered. Leaving no stone unturned, no holes uninvestigated, and tromping down every inch of vegetation on the overgrown hillside; we searched. Fingertip to fingertip, lined in neat rows, step by slow step for three hours. At times calling to the police officer who was our leader when we found something suspicious. The officer would check what we found. If it warranted further investigation, we tied an orange flag at the area. Bear and I had used up all six of our flags. And then someone’s phone rang. And then another. They had found Chelsea’s body. It was unconfirmed, but we were headed back to search HQ. As hundreds of volunteers milled around, drinking donated water and eating donated food, we waited for word. After a time, quietly, a lead volunteer went from small group to small group. He laid his hands lightly on our backs and stated it was confirmed. We held each other and wept. For her parents, for Chelsea and for our community. We were interviewed by the news. Bear was asked if she knew Chelsea and said no. And then she told him why we had come: That we had to come and that if she was missing she knew her parents would need help. Later that evening, when we saw our snippets played out on the news about how close-knit our community is (me) and Bear’s statements about being there for a stranger’s family who needed help, we cried again.

During the week we watched as our community reeled from the discovery. As news crews filmed in front of our old neighbor’s homes and in front of trail heads where we walked daily. One particularly enraged neighbor was filmed angrily screaming at two boys who painted over some graffiti that was painted on the suspect’s parent’s home. Although I understood his rage (fueled by fear for his children, I am sure); I commended those boys for what they did. No child in the area needed to see that kind of stuff. Parent’s were probably having a hard enough time explaining what was going on to their children. When they replayed that newscast later when everyone was home from work, I found out that the angry, screaming man is Fishboy’s uncle. The threads of this community are inexorably tied into my family.

This past Sunday, as we were decorating for RolyPoly’s baby shower breaking news came on. As we switched to the news channel they announced the remains of Amber Dubois had been found. Bear and I sat on the couch, arms around each other praying out loud that we honestly hoped it wasn’t in the area we had searched. Where we had hung our orange flags. Neither of us thought we could handle that. It wasn’t, but we held each other again. Bear whispered in my ear as I cried for the parents, that she was still here. And I thanked God for that, but as I looked in her eyes I saw it. The loss of her innocence. Gone was that youthful naivete, replaced with a dawning knowledge that her world was not the place she had believed it was.

I am not, in any way, trying to take attention away from the actual victims here: those girls who were abused and beaten; the two girls who’s young lives were taken from them too soon; those families whose lives are forever altered by the loss of a loved one in such a horrific and tragic way. But whoever did this, didn’t just victimize them. They victimized an entire community. They victimized my family too. Our hearts were abused and beaten by the death of these girls. Our memories of a place we considered safe and filled with joy, are now tarnished forever with the stains of the blood of innocence. Our grief and pain is not as great as theirs, but it exists just the same. And after the rage subsides, we will find a way to change things. Change something or anything. Some how, some way we will find a way to help those leading us to make a change that might save lives some day. That is our promise to Chelsea and Amber. And to our community.

Some people only dream of Angels, we held one in our arms

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam. And for a brief moment, Its glory and beauty belong to our world…But then it flies on again, And though we wish it could have stayed, We feel so lucky to have seen it.

IMG_0946a Loved with a love beyond telling, missed with a grief beyond all tears

Collin Michael Acord

August 9, 2008

I See The Storm Gathering

I see the storm approaching this time. No surprises, I think. Before we were unprepared, we didn’t even know what had hit us at first. We were blind sided and knocked out cold. But now, the skies have cleared a bit and I can see the storm coming. Relentlessly, it bears down upon me and I watch as it hits the rickety repairs we have made around our hearts. I stand, transfixed, as it rips at the foundation we have laid in the last year. I want to run and hide. I want to find a shelter where it cannot touch us. I want to be like the eagle, I really do.

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

Old grief, new grief. Grief that never left for some. New scars, old scars. Wounds ripped open and new ones being created. I want to fly above it all, yet I want to be there. In the middle of the storm. Passing sandbags to shore up weak hearts. Boarding up the windows on our souls. Mopping up the torrential downpour so no one slips and falls into the abyss. Collecting blankets to keep us warm during the flood of pain. Handing out first aid supplies to stave of infections of the heart. Building shelters to minimize destruction of our psyches.

Or just…..

Turning back time, so it never came.

Endlessly, it seems, the storm crashes over us. I cannot see where we are headed, but I know if we just hang on we may find the light on the other side of the clouds. I’ll just keep them moving along with me. After all, the storm will blow itself out eventually…..

I hope.

And Collin, I know you are in heaven watching us fumble along through this and I love you.

Angels and Dads

Today is Father’s Day. A bittersweet day for my son, MacDougal: His first Father’s Day as a father and yet his first Father’s Day without his son. I had found this beautifully written prayer to share for him today, but was reminded by the lovely ladies at Room704 that today is a day of firsts also for Mike, Maddie’s father. So I want to extend Father’s day wishes full of love, hugs, and support to all the fathers out there who share the deep and meaningful title of Dad.

Our Father…Who art in Heaven…
I come to you with a heavy heart today…
I know you know..but I have lost my child..
And am feeling  like I have lost my way.

People seem to think I am so strong…
I am not invincible…I am not superman…
I am just a grieving Father…missing my child
And could use a friendly helping hand.

I have always been the typical fixer-upper type of Dad…
I could fix anything…ever since I was ten…
But I cannot fix the clock of time…
But, Please God, can you help me wind it up again?

Please bless all the grieving Fathers….
Each hour throughout this day….
With the strength to keep moving ahead…
Even one baby step at a time …would be okay.

Please bless all grieving Fathers…
Each Day throughout this week…
And guide them on their journey of grief…
As the meaning of life they do seek.

Please bless all grieving Fathers…
Each week this whole month through…
With memories to last a lifetime….
And understanding friends to turn to.

Please bless all grieving Fathers…
Each month throughout this year…
With hugs to comfort…in our time of need
And people to realize…our grief doesn’t just disappear.

Please bless all grieving Fathers…
Each Year until the end of time…
With faith in You…to see us through…
From sunrise to sunset…for our whole lifetime.

Please God Bless all the grieving fathers…
Each day throughout this year…
As seasons change…
And time unfolds…
Day by day…
Month by month…
Year by year…
And especially today…on this Fathers Day.
Amen

Written by :
Laura/Heavenly Lights Childrens Memorial

Memory Garden

image

collinsgarden

We miss you daily
Flowers bright like your soul
A place to reflect

Memory garden
Not healing our hearts
Instead calming them

You belong with us
Nature reminds me you’re near
I water with tears

We planted a memorial garden for Collin earlier this year. My thumb is not very green and so it struggled at first. Now it is starting to grow and flourish. I created the above remembrance photo by layering these two from the garden:

June 2009 116 June 2009 117

For more Haiku Friday visit A Mommy Story.

I Know This Feeling And It Sucks

Madeline Alice Spohr – November 11, 2007 – April 7, 2009

Today the world gained another bright star in the sky, when Maddie left. I asked you to support the March Of Dimes back in October, and I ask once again. I know theis feeling from when we lost Collin and if we can do one thing to help Heather and Mike through this difficult time let it be in their beloved Maddie’s name. Click on the purple box with Maddie’s picture and pray that someday we can save all the little babes.

Lord, whose ways are beyond understanding,
listen to the prayers of your faithful people:
that those weighed down by grief
at the loss of this little child
may we find reassurance in your infinite goodness.

Edited to add from AMomTwoBoys-forMaddie:

A PayPal Account has been set up to assist Heather and Mike with any upcoming expenses. You can donate by sending money, via PayPal to formaddie@hotmomreviews.com. All money received will go directly to them

If you want to show Mike and Heather your love and support in person, further details on services for Maddie will be available as they are arranged. The service will be as soon as possible, and they’re asking that everyone wear purple. If you are in the Los Angeles area, or want to be in the area for the event, the March for Babies Team Maddie walk is Saturday, April 25th. Click the March of Dimes link for more information.

People wish to be settled: only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

I awoke at 4:41 am this morning.  Tears coursing down my cheeks, feeling confused and sad. After a moment, it comes to me. My mind has gone, in sleep, where I have refused to tread for months. Back to that night in August.

It had been a long and painful day. I did all I could to care for everyone around me. Touching each and everyone of them while they held him. On their arm, elbow, shoulder. Handing out hugs and tissues as needed. After everyone had gone to bed I was unable to sleep. I sat outside on the little patio. I don’t know what I did or thought, but hours ticked by. Then suddenly it hits me.

I call Nanny and wake her up, sobbing into the phone, “I forgot to say goodbye. I was so busy taking care of everyone, I didn’t take my moment.” Not knowing what to say, she wakes my mother and puts her on the phone too. I am inconsolable. “I just need to hold him for a bit. To look under that cap at his hair. To count his fingers and toes. To kiss his cheeks. I forgot to say goodbye.” They remind me the nurse said they would keep Collin near by until morning in case the parents wanted to see him again and to call the desk to ask if I can come see him

I think it is after midnight. I speak with the nurses at the main station, I am crying and trying to explain. I sound a bit over the edge of sanity, even to myself. But he has already been taken downstairs. I will have to talk to security. I am transferred and I try again to explain my needs, my desperation. The tone of his voice makes me know I am on the other side of the sanity line. He needs to talk to the charge nurse. They will call me back.

My torrent of grief and pain and fear begins to subside while I wait. It takes so long for the hospital to call me back that I become sure they are trying to find someone with a nice ‘special’ jacket to come pick me up. I have frightened my daughter and my mother. I probably have frightened the nurses too. The charge nurse calls back. There are rules, blah, blah, can I wait till morning (no he will be too cold, I think, but I don’t say-as I am starting to get a handle on my crazy now) and they would have to wake the parents for permission. No. No. I don’t want that. I am fine. I am okay. I was just having a moment. I am over it now I tell them all.

The hours wind by. I clean. I fold laundry. I listen to music. I cry alone. I go outside around 4:40 am to take out the garbage. Six feet from the parking lot I freeze. Here in the city, in the middle of a parking lot, is a coyote. Only a few feet from me, he stops and stares. Actually we stare, our eyes locked. The coyote is young, lean and wiry. His fur reflects the bright moonlight and his eyes are deep and dark. More moments pass as I feel like I am missing something, not hearing something, and then he lowers his head and walks slowly away. “Wait. Stop.” I say it out loud, without thinking. The raw sound spooks the coyote and he starts to lope across the lot. I run after him, across  the street and through another lot. I can hear his nails ticking on the asphalt,  but I can’t see him anywhere. I stop and turn around, seeking in the dark corners. “Wait, don’t go. Where are you?” No answer, I can’t hear him anymore.

And now here I am again. A different night, a different house, a different porch, but not so different. I am back in that moment again and I realize I failed myself. I didn’t remember to take care of me. In the light of day it has seemed bearable. But the quiet and peace of the night reveals the truth.

Wait.

Don’t go.

I forgot to say goodbye.

A Letter To Heaven

Hey Gramps,

I am not sure why I am writing this, except I want to wish you a Happy Birthday. Since you have been gone for 10 years that probably sounds a bit strange…but I was thinking about you and so here I am, writing you a letter in heaven.

I am not exactly sure how it got to be 10 years that you have been gone. Time passes so swiftly sometimes. It seems like just yesterday that I was summoned to your bedside for the 600th time with their claim would be the last time. If they used pictures in the dictionary, I am sure yours would be the one they put under the word survivor.

You were a lot of things to a lot of people. To me you were my everything. You and Grandma. You were a man of insurmountable love, a thinker, a reader, a listener and one of the best huggers I have ever met in my life. Your hugs could cure a broken heart, heal all wounds, and make anyone feel like they were on top of the world.

So, maybe I do know why I am writing this and probably you do too. Today it is your birthday. Today is also the day that MacD had chosen to have his baby. They gave him a window of time and he chose this day. Because of you. He remembers your hugs and he adores/worships/loves Grandma and wanted to honor you. After you were gone, when MacD turned 18 he had deep and serious discussion with Grandma about legally changing his last name to yours. He wanted you to have little baby boys to carry on your name directly. That is how much he loved and respected you.

So, back to the why am I writing you. The truth is I am thinking of you. Quite a bit lately. I’ve wanted to call you. Chat some and ask you a bunch of questions about something I am doing right now that I know you are an expert in. But I can’t call you. And today should have been Collin’s birthday instead of 8/9.

I know you are there with Collin. I am quite confident that you are taking excellent care of him. But I wanted to ask favor from you for this silly, mortal soul on earth. I want Collin to know how much he is loved, missed, and mourned. Just like you are. I want, no I need, you to give him one of your hugs. Your love-filled,  full-force, manly hugs. Tell him I told you to do it. Because a hug from you embodies all the love I ever felt for my babies and for my grandbabies. And if I could give Collin one gift, it would be the gift of a real hug. A farkle family hug. The kind of hug that makes the worst things in life go away for a moment because of the real, abiding, and deep love that is our family. You were really, really good at those kind of hugs. So give him one from me. And then go celebrate your ‘earth’ birthday, tuck him under your arm, and share with him our love.

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