A myriad of emotions ran through my mind at this simple statement. Apprehension. Fear. Sadness. Shock. Relief.
Yes, relief. As she talked, I felt a growing sense of validation for the past years of struggle. I can tell people what a horrific day that was, but there are truly no words to describe the actual scene without freaking people out. (People don't like real horror when it comes to someone they know personally. It becomes too overwhelming for them.)
This woman is a Victim's Advocate for the sheriff's department. Rushing to death scenes and crime scenes is her business. She is one of those heroic people who rush in and see things that most people don't have the stomach to witness. She did this with me. I have thought of her, too, over the years as an unknown angel who had the grace to hold my hand in the midst of a nightmare.
As first on scene that day, she saw me giving my husband CPR despite his nearly severed neck, heard the kids screaming for me to save him, and saw the dysfunction of my support system as they trickled in during the night. She said to me that, despite the many deaths and traumatic situations she has seen since that night, the kids and I have haunted her because of the in-your-face nature of my husband's death and how alone we were in the midst of the chaos. She said that every time she passes my neighborhood she says a prayer for us because she has never been able to shake that night from her mind.
So, yes, she validated the struggle we have had getting over and beyond the trauma of it all. Most people don't get it and wonder why I'm not remarried or why my career hasn't been a priority until recently. Almost since day one, I have been told to get over it, move on or snap out of it even as the kids and I dealt with grief over losing the center of our world and anxiety of witnessing a suicide. Hearing the judgmental comments repeatedly over five years has worn me down, pissed me off, made me doubt myself, ignited my rebellious nature and tainted my view of humanity with cynicism.
Hearing a seasoned professional say she has also not been able to shake the events of that day relieved me in ways I find difficult to explain. I felt so much lighter after speaking to her. I felt free. I felt strong.
Perhaps I even felt vindicated.
As for those who continue to judge without ever walking in my shoes or knowing the full story, back off. Be grateful that you did not witness what we did that day. Be grateful that you haven't walked in my shoes. Be grateful to not know what I know.
Talking to that woman made me happy to be the "YOU" she sought, not because she felt sorry for me (she didn't and pity is something I would reject), but because she knew...she witnessed...she stood by my side during the worst hours of my life and admired my strength. Talking to her completed a chapter I had been struggling to end.
She gave me her phone number. We're going to have lunch soon. I am lucky to have people like her---people with tenderness, compassion and a heroic soul--enter my life. Yes, I am very lucky.
Peace to you--
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