It was a year ago on my son’s third birthday that I saw her last. She sat in a booth at one of my favorite local eateries talking happily to her friends. Tired myself after a long day of celebration and not wanting to interrupt, I smiled to myself and kept walking by. That was the last time I saw her alive. If only I had known then what I know now… Hindsight is 20/20, right?
That day faded into my memories, lost in the mix of daily life and needs. Until one day, I just happened to read the newspaper when an article’s title caught my eye. It said something to the effect of what some mothers did that most don’t do.
The article talked about how two local mothers had apparently killed their children and then themselves. I read my friend’s name in that article. I sat stunned. In disbelief, I checked my phone to be sure I had her married name right. Yes, it was her.
She was my college roommate the first half of my freshman year. We hadn’t seen each other for 15 years following graduation, when we bumped into each other in the produce aisle 2 years before her death. At the grocery store, we exchanged phone numbers. Her daughter was my daughter’s age. Later, we set a play date and our daughters played together at a local children’s museum while she and I reconnected.
After reading about her violent death, I was very unsettled. It took me several days to process her apparent crime and the violence. The house she rented and died in was within 2 miles of my home. I wondered if I heard the sirens the day they were found. I wondered if I had sent up a prayer, like I often do when I hear the sirens traveling down the main artery by my house.
You see, my imagination went wild after I read more about her death. In my mind’s eye, emotions and in my body, I experienced the events from my friend’s perspective. I can only guess that she felt she was protecting her daughter and in her mind, her daughter was better off dead.
She shot her daughter at close range twice before she put the gun to herself. I can only imagine what she felt and experienced that day.
That day that I saw her at the restaurant was a mere 2 weeks before her death. Maybe I could have known. Maybe I could have intervened or been there to support her.
I didn’t find out until about her death until well after the fact. However, this was important timing for me. As a few weeks later I asked my husband for a divorce.
Knowing how terrible things must have been between my friend and her estranged husband taught me to do my best to keep my heart open as much as possible. There were times that I was angry and expressed myself angrily, but I did not let it continue to become a pattern. Instead, I chose to look at my shadow; the reflection in my of her suffering. It breaks my heart to think how much anger and fear she must have felt to cause her to take her daughter’s life and her own life. May she find peace in death that she could not find here, in her life.
I choose to live.
Photo courtesy of Pong on FreeDigitalPhotos.net