I have this incredible faith. While the trust aspect is at times missing and I want to tell God what He should be doing, the faith is unwavering. As I read back over my journal, kept sporadically early into my journey out of abuse, then a few times a day post shooting, to a few times a week now, I see how that faith evolved. It sustained me as I fought to survive the aftermath.
Although I realized how wrong what had happened was in the scheme of things, I still had a sense of peace that God had enveloped us (the children and me); that He protected us and left me for some very specific reason. To some non-believers or those on the faith fringe that may seem like fanatical thinking, or shock induced delusion. For me it is simply an acknowledgement of my truth. I thought both coming into consciousness in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and upon waking up to absolute darkness after surgery that surely I was dead. Yet no time during my conscious awareness did it ever occur to me I could die. Once I was aware I was indeed alive, I assumed it; that I would live.
That faith extends to a clarity to me that a cast of people were placed purposely in my life to play a role in this one event and what was to follow. Again, this is surely not in keeping with any religious doctrine, it is simply my belief based on my experiences.
None of the cast came to October 4, 2009 willingly. In retrospect, the series of events preceding that day gathered momentum in that final week that made it unstoppable. I believe God had prepared a framework to support me through the event and in building a new life.
My therapist Dr. Brown, to whom I attribute saving my emotional life, moving me from fear into hope, finally exploring the truth about my marriage, helping me see my worth and a life beyond an abusive relationship. He has been an amazing guide on this journey; someone for and to whom I will forever be grateful.
Priest, friend, spiritual leader and blesser of homes, chief encourager the Rev. Margaret Watson, who held my love for my children in her heart as she sat in my stead to tell them of their father’s death, the possibility of mine, and fought to have them stay with friends in Richmond rather than be isolated from any familiar comfort they knew an hour a half away. Her prayers, the prayer vigil, the funeral were all things that she is trained to do. The circumstance, however, no training could have ever prepared her for. No stranger to trauma and loss, she has been here.
Lynne, my almost lifelong friend who was in the inner circle and witnessed what virtually no others had or would admit, who had the strength to risk our friendship by sharing what she observed when she could no longer stand by and watch me continue to be destroyed, who concerned I was still in increasing danger, kept and shared an email in which he’d made a death threat years prior.
Mary Ellen, the friend who listened and listened and listened. Who supported me in every decision I’ve ever made, who like Lynne was steady and did not abandon me when I persisted in staying. Her daily calls are like the sun rising, thankfully rousing me from a bed of self-pity on many a day.
Gretchen, who so many times explored with me why we were in each other’s lives, who sensed something had gone terribly wrong when I didn’t show up for our walk together that day, who searched for and found me, who has lent me perspective when I needed it in her no nonsense way.
Kevin and Kitty, who showed my daughter the only stability she knew through their family life, who provided shelter from the storm before and after for me, emotionally and physically. Their loving strength gave me a chance to get my legs under me again.
Gordon, a friend, who has come after, who has not abandoned me as I have tried to leave it behind, remaining steady watching my constant emotional volley between piecing together the puzzle of a broken life and rediscovering who I am and who I can be; not clearly in any one space. Who has read what I’ve written, and listened. He listens, steady, unwavering, solid, strong.
The hundreds of people who I knew through church, BNI, my volunteer efforts, and a community at large; friends, family and strangers who sustained us with more than food; who offered service and companionship and encouragement on some very long, dark nights.
Friends, priests and doctors do not compare to the simple love of my sister. She was here as soon as she could be, and did for my children what I could not, including intervening on their behalf, comforting them at the funeral home and funeral, and being there.
I’ve always had some sense that life would resume for them, not skipping a beat, that time would fade the blunt of it, the event forgotten. I have known only we would be left with what remained. Now life is resumed. Lynne moved to Arizona, friends feel better about where I am with it all, Margaret is leaving our church. Yet I don’t feel solid enough, formed enough, to go it alone. The supports are falling away, and I fear once they are completely removed, so then too will be the strength I have surrounding me. Which takes me back to that sometimes fleeting trust in faith.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11
And Frank. Thank you for setting up and maintaining the blog, for the encouragement, for sending this verse when I was in the thick of it.