Each of us has days that are etched into our memories: a wedding day, the birth of a child, the first day of school.
For me one of the biggest is March 2, 2005. It started out like any other day... get the girls up, get them fed and dressed. Drop them at daycare and head off to school.
The day did not end that way.
During my planning period, the principal and assistant principal appeared in my room and asked me to come with them to the office. This was odd behavior. Normally, our secretary would just call on the intercom or phone to ask me to come up. They told me Dan and the girls were fine. This immediately triggered a stab of fear in my heart. That meant someone wasn't fine.
They escorted me upstairs to the office and into a conference room normally used for parent meetings. Dan was there waiting for me. I took one look at him and knew.... he didn't even get the words out of his mouth to tell me. My Gram was gone.
I remember wailing... really wailing, and almost falling to the floor. This wasn't supposed to happen, not yet. She wasn't sick, she had just had her birthday days before. I had just talked with her on the phone.
She died in a horrific, violent way that I wouldn't wish on another human being.
The next few days passed in a blur of rushing downstate to be home with my family as we made arrangements for her funeral. Then the visitations for her and my great-aunt Dorothy, her sister who was a victim along with Gram. It was surreal to walk into the funeral services and see the long lenses of cameras capturing photos of the families and the other mourners, to be approached by a reporter as we left the church that awful morning we said goodbye. It seemed unreal to see Gram's face and that of Aunt Dorothy on the news as reporters speculated on how long it might take the police to find the person who willfully, violently took them from us. It was impossible to shield my nearly-five-year-old daughter from hearing things she shouldn't.
Every March 2, I think about the details of that day... that week... the ones that followed. The trial that led to an acquittal of the person charged with the triple homicide. The closure that we as a family still lack.
The rest of the year, I think about how special Gram was. How she loved me unconditionally.
Her bright silver-white hair (which if my own gray is any indication, she passed on to me).
Her joy in her grandchildren and their accomplishments. Her smile as we married and had children of our own for her to cuddle and love, just as she had for us as babies.
I hold her in my heart, and I think about her every single day as I go about my life. I know that somewhere, someplace, she and my mom are with me, watching my girls grow up, applauding their accomplishments, helping to guide me when I need to comfort their hurts.
I hope she is proud of the woman I have become. I love you, Gram.
|Gram and my girls, just days after Abby was born. June, 2004.|