April 27, 2006
A Tragedy to Tell
It started with "the call." You know the call I'm talking about. It's when you can tell instantly that the person on the other end of the line has bad news. This time I could tell it was really bad news. It was the "someone has died" kind of news.
I put the caller on hold and went into a private room. There, I braced myself and asked, "What has happened?" The news was from my cousin. This is my cousin who was like a sister to me growing up. She's a bit younger than me and my twin. The three of us would pretend we were triplets as kids; many believed us. It was a fun game we played and added to our closeness. Although we now live five states away from each other and we're not as close as we used to be, I would still do anything to support my cousin.
So what I did early Monday morning was fly out to Indiana to be with her. You see, less than 24 hours before, my cousin lost her beloved daughter. She was sixteen and about to attend her first prom. Everyone loved her. Her nickname was Chas. She was rushing home a bit late for her curfew after playing cards at a friend's house. Chas had not been drinking, but it was late, she was rushed and she was driving down a dark, narrow country road. Chas came upon a narrow bridge. Her car slammed into the concrete abutment supporting the bridge and instantly burst into flames.
I know my cousin was comforted by the knowledge that her precious daughter died instantly and did not suffer. It had to be excruciating for her, however, that she was not able to see and say goodbye to her little girl's body. Just about 12 hours before her death, Chas had attended an event--a baseball game I believe--and someone had taken her picture there. I know my cousin is glad she has a photo of Chas that is so recent.
My twin sister and I stayed at my cousin's house. We talked and looked at photographs. We laughed and we cried. My sis and I tried to help out in any way we could around the house. I did loads of laundry. My cousin's husband asked if I would sort through Chas' clothes, which I did. I stayed in the room next to the bedroom that had belonged to Chas. Her big sister, home from college, was staying in that room. I ached to comfort her somehow as she sobbed and wailed in the next room into the night and next morning.
Most of us in my cousin's house managed to get a few hours of sleep. We awoke in the morning and dressed for the funeral. The funeral home was large, but not large enough to hold the crowds of people who came to say goodbye to Chas. It seemed her entire high school was in attendance. Everyone agreed Chas was the type of person who valued everyone and never belonged to any cliques. She was an inclusive--not exclusive--type of friend to everyone. During her memorial service, it was standing room only and people spilled out into the hallway.
There were gorgeous flowers galore and hundreds of photographs, including a lovely slide show of Chas and her friends and family. The gown, which had already been purchased for her prom, was on display. Also displayed were many high school and childhood mementos belonging to Chas. These moved everyone to tears, as did the heart-felt goodbyes and remembrances uttered during the service.
When my cousin spoke of her daughter, she read from a letter Chas had written to her mom sometime earlier. In the letter, Chas told the story of the little soul talking to God, preparing to be born here on earth. The little soul was a bit scared and asked God how she would learn the language and the customs and know what to do here on our blue planet. God reassured the little soul that she would have an angel assistant on earth to guide her and show her the way. The little soul asked who this angel was, how she would know her angel and what name it had. God said, "You do not need to know the name of your angel. You will simply call her Mommy."
I thought of this dear Mommy, my cousin, as I boarded an early-morning flight to come back home Wednesday. My eyes were red-rimmed and swollen and I looked like someone who hadn't slept much or well for two nights. Thankfully, the captain of the plane I was on for the first leg of my journey kept the lights off for the duration of the flight.
So I wept openly as I thought about the Mommy who carried and bore her child, nursed all the boo boos, guided her daughter and raised her to early womanhood. I can only imagine her shock, her loss and her grief at having to bury her own child. I know Chas--her beautiful, shining soul, her light-filled spirit--is in a wonderful place. I know her mother is in a painful and difficult place. I will send her all the healing vibes, thoughts and prayers I possibly can. Please send all you have as well.
April 20, 2006
Angela Shelton on Lifetime
The bad news is I've been sick. Eewww! Yuck! Really sick kind of sick. And I'm not bouncing back as fast as I'd like--perhaps because I got too dehydrated. The good news is that we are starting to see some positive results already through my son's therapy. It's the kind of thing where you go to an expert and they teach you a bunch of therapy techniques to use at home. Daily. As in every two hours. I feel like a walking egg timer!
Ah, well. Nature, in her infinite wisdom, decided me being sick was the only way to go. "Too much stress! Too much running around. Not enough sleep. You WILL rest. Now! Wham!"
So, now I'm getting some rest. And my son is already showing improvement. It will all be more than worth it if I continue to hear the rare phrase, "Mommy, I feel good!" Music to my ears.
Here's what's happening on "The Movement" front. That's what Angela Shelton calls the effort to stop the silence and break the cycle of abuse. Speaking of Angela Shelton, her movie, Searching for Angela Shelton will make its exclusive television debut on Lifetime this Saturday. The special one-hour version of the film includes never-before-seen footage and will air on the cable network Saturday, April 22 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern & Pacific time. You can check the schedule here: www.lifetimetv.com. Lifetime also has message boards where you can share ideas and comments about the film.
You can see a trailer of the film here: www.searchingforangelashelton.com. You might also want to check out Angela's personal blog at www.angelashelton.com/weblog. If you visit, prepare yourself for Angela's frank, in-your-face discussions. She doesn't sugar-coat anything. I love this woman's energy, courage and honesty!
April 14, 2006
Race to Stop the Silence
But, I can't forget to let everyone know about the event happening in D.C. tomorrow. It's the Race to Stop the Silence. The third annual 8K race is sponsored by the nonprofit, Stop Child Sexual Abuse organization at www.stopcsa.org. The event is held, like all of Stop CSA's activities, to raise awareness and funds for CSA prevention and treatment. The local beneficiary of the Stop the Silence race is Safe Shores, the D.C. Children's Advocacy Center.
The 8K race begins at 8:30 a.m. There is also a 5K run/walk and a kids' fun run. New this year is the display of the start of the CSA Quilt by Safe Girls, Strong Girls, www.safegirlsstronggirls.org. The quilt is designed to promote public awareness of CSA. In addition to raising awareness, Safe Girls, Strong Girls supports girls with healing through the Arts. You can check out these links in order to help out these organizations and you can still register at Stop CSA for tomorrow's race.
April 06, 2006
A Day to End Sexual Violence
Yes, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And today is "A Day To End Sexual Violence." Find out more about it at this link at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center website.
April 03, 2006
In the meantime, here's some info on Lifetime's fifth annual Stop the Violence Against Women Week in Washington D.C. April 3 thru 7.
Please also visit my Survivors Can Thrive! website at www.survivorscanthrive.com.