Today I went to the Women for Courage Luncheon with my mom. The Charlotte event was put on by the Jamie Kimble Foundation. I heard about it months back when a girl named Sharon came across a recipe of mine pinned to Pinterest, came to my blog then clicked through to my post on learning to grieve. Sharon emailed me and we finally met this week at the event. She was one of the event coordinators and is on the board for the Foundation.
Sharon was best friends with Jamie, who was killed through a similar act of domestic violence, like my best friend, Shannon. Her friend Jamie, escaped an abusive relationship but then 3 months later he drove across the country and shot her and them himself.
Seeing the video showing her life and the hearts of her parents just brought me to tears.
I pictured Shannon and Jamie together looking down on us and the whole room of 700 people.
I was so overwhelmed with seeing the room full of men and women wanting to celebrate Jamie’s memory and bring awareness to Domestic Violence. I was fighting back tears the whole lunch. We heard from amazing survivors and advocates for domestic violence awareness. I was so touched by the whole thing…seeing so many people gathered together and wanting to take action on this issue. The guest speaker was Jane Randel, co-founder of the National No-More Campaign.
I have gone through many phases of grief with losing Shannon.
For those of you who are new to my blog, I’ve shared her story from the beginning. But she had finally escaped an abusive relationship and during a custody exchange, he brutally shot her in front of the children. The details are horrific and are straight out of a horror movie or crime show you would change the channel for. I pray for Shannon and her children every night. And I pray by name for Chris’s conversion. That was a big step for me over the years. But Shannon was an incredibly kind and forgiving person.
She prayed for him and asked others to pray for him, even when she was fearing for her life.
He is now in prison serving life with no chance of parole.
I’ve found myself going to a place of protecting myself.
Letting her come to my mind but not able to watch old videos or think too long on old times.
It just hurts too much. And it makes me want to crumble a little bit inside.
But after this event, I’ve realized that I need to be stronger. I need to have courage.
And let myself share her story more and speak more about her.
And know that even though it’s hard we must speak up.
We must be the voice for those who feel they have lost their voice.
One in four women will be experience Domestic Violence in their lifetime.
One in Five high school students report being abused by a boyfriend in High School.
As many as 324,000 women each year experience
intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.
3 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.
65% of Domestic Violence Murder Victims had separated
from their abusers prior to their deaths.
South Carolina used to be ranked the deadliest state in the nation for women.
In 2014, Alaska took the first spot, but South Carolina was
only bumped to second in the rate of women killed by men.
Jamie’s Parents and friends and family are doing amazing things through her foundation.
Their goal is to stop domestic violence before it begins, through education of young people.
At the luncheon they passed out a card with warning signs.
The whole time I was like I NEED to blog this. I need to pin this.
I need to help put this out there in case someone comes across it that needs to see this list.
Please join me in spreading this list. You never know who you
know that might need to see this.
Call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
I know a lot of people have heard the song, ‘Try’ by Colbie Caillet.
I was on Shannon’s facebook page tonight…
sometimes I end up there when I’m missing her.
I guess it makes me think of when she was still here and I would be all the way up in pittsburgh and she would pop up on my screen and we
would exchange baby and life updates, miss you’s and call you laters.
‘Try’ came on my spotify playlist. Tears starting rolling down my face.
“You don’t have to try so hard…” Today on the drive home from church I was talking to God.
I told Him how I feel this burden to DO. and to TRY. and I just need Him. and I know He can
do everything better than I ever could. I wanted to give Him all of these things on my heart.
The busy I feel. The sadness I feel.
I remember going to see a movie with Shannon and Cassie back when
we were in high school. a very popular girly chick flick.
I remember all of us sitting in the car in the parking lot..and Shannon started crying.
She started sharing her heart and she summed it up by
saying, “I just want to find real love. I want to be loved.”
And I’ll never forget that conversation. It’s the reality of what all of us want.
How often do we try so hard to be loved, to be approved of, to be admired…
and we are…
You don’t have to try so hard.
That love we want is only going to come from one place.
otherwise we’ll keep on looking and striving and not feeling fulfilled.
Shannon found that love. She is with Him and He loves
her in that most complete and fulfilling way that she desired.
As I drove home from church tonight…
the song Oceans came on.
I loveee this song.
it makes my burdened heart find some peace as I sing it and pray it,
“I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves.
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.”
I hope you find some comfort tonight in those words…
You are His. Give Him your burdens. give Him your sadness.
Don’t worry about chasing your dreams.
Just say yes to HIS dreams for you.
You don’t have to try so hard.
I consider myself a very chill, non confrontational person (unless I’m very pregnant…
then it’s fair game that I might give you a death stare if you don’t use your turn signals.)
But I have found that there are just certain things that rub me the wrong way sometimes
and it makes me sad that others don’t react the same way.
I lost my best friend to a violent act of domestic violence.
It wasn’t till recently that I could watch any of those crime shows on tv.
I still can’t really watch ones when women are involved.
The last time I watched one of those lifetime movie network shows about a woman
who escapes an abusive relationship and then kicks the guy’s butt in the end…
was the worst idea ever.
It shook me. And it was a stupid movie. And the whole time I watched it I was like
turn it off.. turn it off.. you’ll just feel broken if you keep watching!
I feel like extra protective of women in general.
And I feel kind of like a complete failure that I haven’t done anything BIG to protect
more women. I don’t know if I’m ready to walk into a domestic violence center…
I feel weak when I think about it. Is that bad? Should I be ready or should I have
already ran in like the month after we lost shannon?
I know others did. I looked into doing it… but then I stopped the process.
Today on instagram, a very big company that I love and follow, posted a you tube video that
has gone viral. It was a video of taylor swift during her grammy’s performance, getting kicked in the face by a character from street fighters..(she kept doing a wild head back motion in her performance and so they made fun of it)
ok.. I get it.. they though it would be funny to have her getting kicked in the head by this cartoon…
It’s a cartoon..I get it… Most people wouldn’t think anything about it I suppose.
But I feel extra sensitive when I see anything remotely violent towards women.
And then when I read one of their hashtags…. #hashtagabuse…..
It just made me have to say something.
And I did. But then I looked back about 1 minute later and there were
hundreds of comments of people laughing and tagging friends to watch.
It just made me feel weird.
and partially wondering if I’m just super sensitive to the “A” word.
It just feels like people don’t realize what that word can mean to people.
The struggle and nightmare they could be living in, in an abusive relationship.
I feel like we are supposed to be so politically correct and tolerant of people’s opinions and beliefs, but so often that courtesy is only given to certain things and people.
Oversensitive or not, but abuse towards women shouldn’t be joked about.
especially with a hashtag that says #hashtagabuse
Today marks 2 years since my best friend Shannon was
killed through an act of Domestic Violence.
and an amazing beautiful person was taken from so many people who loved her..
As a whole..each year seems to get easier.
But certain days are easier than others.
I flew into atlanta for a quick 1.5 day trip a couple weeks ago.
And even though I never said it out loud…
that night in the hotel I had a dream…
I was sobbing.
and was wishing I could go down the street to see Shannon.
Deep down I felt like a trip back home to atlanta
wasn’t complete without seeing her.
Sometimes I watch the video I made below…just to hear her voice in the first clip.
The last voice mail she left me..that didn’t show up till she was already gone.
Some days I just can’t watch much further.
While other days I cling to those memories because it was my last moments with ‘her’…
The day I walked into her house for the first time since I
walked through that door WITH her…was a hard day.
But also a beautiful one because I was able to see her sweet babies happy and growing.
I look back..and remember how when it first happened.. I just remember this incredible weight I felt. sadness. anger. I felt like I could just tilt and fall right over.
I remember asking my mom if I would ever not feel this way.
But over time I found strength.. and motivation to be a good mom and wife and friend.
I remember finding it so hard to want to socialize with other moms…feeling like a best friend was taken and how could I ever have that connection with anyone else…
but then suddenly it turned into a desire to be with other moms to take advantage of the time we have..the moments we have of interacting with people, to make them happy..to invest time into friendships because you never know when you will lose that person.
I started to realize that God puts people in your life for a reason.
Don’t take advantage of the time that you have… and the people in your life.
I remember the first e-mail I got from a reader telling me how shannon’s story changed their life and gave them strength to act when in a domestic violence situation.
I remember thinking THIS…. this is why I started this blog so long ago.
If my words on this blog can help ONE person..then YESSSS… it is worth it.
It is very easy to be angry over losing shannon.
I have gone through many stages of grief.. numbness, disbelief, sadness, and I’m definitely JUST leaving anger… I’m trying to shake that.. to not focus on the details of how she was taken…and WHO took her…but how we had shannon for those years.
I never want to forget the good memories..
the goofing off..
the time we were extras for a movie in atlanta.
goofing off on the set and having fun.
(bobby jones: stroke of genius)
going to dances!
getting all dressed up… cassie’s mom doing our hair.. ;)
feeling pretty and dancing the night away!
the bridal shower the girls threw me…
when they blindfolded me and took me to a restaurant.
(I just found, during the move, the little notebook that they
all wrote in the pages and gave to me. I re-read shannon’s page more than once.)
and having her there next to me the day
I was getting married.. getting our hair done.
I’m trying to hold onto those good memories.
I will always miss you shannon…but happy to have had you in my life.
blessed to have had you in my life.
To read all posts related to Shannon you can click here.
Please share her story..donate if you can.
If you have been touched by her story and would like to
visit her Memorial Page you can visit here.
Please Pray for peace in our world
and for all those affected by Domestic Violence.