The lure of a romantic weekend, a second honeymoon, a trip to make things right again, ending with ‘falling’ off a cruise ship, ‘slipping’ off a mountain, a ‘missed stepping’ into the grand canyon. How creepy it is to be the ‘almost’.
The weekend he had planned for us to go away, insisting it was what we needed to get back on track, to rekindle our relationship, was not as it seemed at the time. I’d agreed to go on the condition he made arrangements for the children and the pets to be taken care of, but somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach I felt an uneasiness. I felt like he was luring me back in, and to go was to concede, to go backwards, and that I would then never escape. After all the work I had done to get on steady emotional ground after years of relentless emotional and verbal battering, it seemed too risky.
It is chilling that my life was saved only by the divine intervention of my sister pointing out I was in the ‘honeymoon’ cycle of abuse; a period when there is a lull before the next act of violence. When she made me aware of the pattern, I called my therapist who helped me find the strength and conviction at the last minute not to go away. I realized that by then, the cycle had spun out with such force it was beyond retrievable. The only way to stop it was to stay my course of leaving the marriage.
The hotel reservation he made for that weekend was never cancelled. The charges appeared as the only outstanding balance on his final unpaid credit card statement. Was he taking me to Washington DC or Baltimore? A romantic inn on the Eastern Shore? The beach, the mountains? No.
The hotel he’d booked was a $69 budget hotel in Richmond, twenty minutes from where we live. It was nothing like the deluxe hotels we’d stayed in over the years, not even an Omni or Hyatt, not a romantic setting, not his style at all. I suspect he knew whatever the room was like wouldn’t be important. Knowing now what I do about intimate partner murder, a shiver still runs down my spine. The decision to kill me had been made and all evidence points to that weekend.
Earlier that summer I walked in on him one night in a dark room putting bullets in the gun. I immediately assumed he was suicidal since it was after I’d told him I wanted to end our marriage. After the incident I demanded he get rid of all his shotguns and handguns. The words of my best friend, just days before the shooting, hang heavy as I recall she asked “Have you searched the entire house to be sure he has removed all the guns?” Still quite naïve and believing him to be someone with whom I could reason, I responded “No, but I trust him”.
The police report noted his Dopp kit was found unzipped and opened the day of the shooting. He apparently retrieved the gun from amidst his travel toiletries where he’d stored it for travel the day we were to ‘go away’.
My fellow travelers on this path from abuse, beware the lure, beware the suddenly changed dynamic, pay attention to the quiet, question the calm. Because evil is not transformed, it is simply paused for recalibration before it is finally perpetuated.