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)
We found out shortly before that he agreed to a plea bargain for life in prison without parol.
After 3 years, at 4:15 pm last friday, Chris plead guilty to 7 counts of
murder, stalking and child cruelty.
I ‘m just now able to publish this post.
I think I just couldn’t wrap my head around all of it.
I really struggled with “how” am I supposed to feel about it.
I’m not sure why I initially felt there was a “correct” way to feel…
but it really bugged me that I couldn’t pin point my emotions.
I went into this thinking it would bring closure.
It would be the first time I would see him and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I guess I was waiting these past 6 days for that closure to kick in.
I suppose there is an ending on the legal side of it…
But all around, it was a sad day. I was sad for shannon’s family and friends.
And I was sad for Chris and his family.
I don’t think I’m ready to have sympathy for him…but I did feel sad.
Is that possible? who knows. maybe those aren’t even the correct words
to express my emotions but at this point that’s as close as I can get.
Ben, Micah and I drove into Atlanta from Charlotte that morning.
It’s an easy boring straight 4 hour drive and micah was a dream baby.
Give him a fruit pouch and forget that’s the worst idea ever and he is happy.
Our car, car seat and baby smelled fruity fresh.
I held onto the scarf shannon had made me one year for christmas.
I had come across it one day earlier this year when I absolutely needed it.
It was a God moment.
In my purse I had these photos and tissues from my mom.
So thankful for my sister in law who watched Micah so ben wouldn’t have to
worry about taking him in and out of the court room.
Ben was my rock that day.
We got there 30 minutes early.
I had knots in my stomach and felt like I was about to do something
I was going to totally regret.
When we got there, shannon’s step brother was coming out of the courtroom and
after a hug and smile he asked if we wanted to go up with him to the holding
room where his parents were. We went through the maze of hallways
and ended up in a small room where they all were.
Everyone looked on edge, happy but sad..anxious. to see it all really happen.
The DA came in to give them a run down on how things were going to go.
I felt awkward and was excusing myself when they said to stay.
I told them just to tell me what to do! She started going through what would happen.
I’m glad she did, I felt more prepared and was able to work through some of the knots in my throat. She said how she had to run through the basic details of the murder and that we had to be prepared to hear it. and that, looking at me, some of the details might be new. we had to be ready to hear them. She went on with more of how it would go…
but I already was wanting to fill up with tears. I squeezed shannon’s scarf and got through it.
As we made our way down to the court room, Shannon’s dad pulled me aside and
asked if I wanted to know details before I heard it in the court room.
That’s when the first rush of tears came.
Her mom had come over at the same time showing me a photo album our friend made up…
so many of the photos were from my parent’s house when she came up to visit.
I was just in those rooms. everything still looks so much the same.
It just felt like too much and I cried. But at the same time I didn’t want them to comfort me.
They had enough on them.
I really was anxious to see Chris. to just put my eyes on him.
When we entered the court room and all sat down.. his family on the other side..
He walked in with his two lawyers.
Physically he looked the same to me. hair in a pony tail and a wispy beard.
He did a lot of standing and holding his hands together in front of him.
He also bent forward a lot putting both arms on the table in front of him.
Kind of like what you do when you are in a church pew.
He had his head down and to the left or right a lot.
And there were times he shook his head… it looked like the same motion I found
myself doing when they were reading some of the horrible details or affects on the kids.
You just don’t want to believe it’s real.
The DA ran through a lot of questions with him..and he had to answer yes to each.
Mainly to show he understood the laws, his rights, his decision…etc.
I have to say that I found some comfort in knowing more of the unknown.
I know that I’ll never know the conversation they had.. what he said to her what she
said to him.. why he did it.. what he felt after… but knowing more of the timeline and
the autopsy details gave me some peace…she didn’t suffer long.
But just hearing all of it took me back to those first days.
The details of how defenseless she was and how ruthless the killing was.
My heart broke for her family having to listen to it with her murderer sitting so close.
Just a very weird feeling. like…does he hear what we are hearing?
I found myself holding my breath.
ben had to squeeze my hand and remind me to breathe.
The tears came and I tried so hard to make them silent.
I wanted to just flat out ugly cry. but my ugly cry is too loud.
and the judge had made it clear at the start that if we didn’t think we could handle
it to excuse ourselves. I don’t think he meant crying..but I knew I had to keep it
contained or else I would never get it back.
the whole time I felt like water was being poured over me and I was trying
to hold my breath and catch every last drop, not letting it fall to the floor.
At one point Shannon’s mom, dad and step mother were able to give a statement
to the judge. Most of their words were to describe to the judge who shannon was…
Lots of memories and details about the beautiful person she was.
These stories brought lots of tears to all of us in the courtroom.
When they talked about some of the memories that I was a part of…
It was like we were back there.
It was especially hard hearing the affect this tragedy had on shannon’s children.
Just heart breaking experiences and conversations.
Shannon’s mom shared about how Shannon had finally recently “met the love of her life.”
and the night before had spinned around her mom’s kitchen just so
happy from a fun night with him and friends. How she said,
“mom, I was the prettiest girl in the room!”
It made my heart just want to burst. Because she was able to have that moment,
of realizing how amazing she was again. She was free. She was whole.
That was something he couldn’t take from her.
Her babies were baptized..and she saw her worth and beauty!
You will never see me share, until I am told it’s appropriate, current photos of shannon’s kids.
We want to keep them as safe and private as possible.
At one point the judge asked all of Shannon’s friends and family to stand.
The DA had told us before in the holding room, that Chris’ lawyer said he was not going to make a statement.
But, when the time came, Chris said he wanted to say something.
He pulled out of his pocket a white piece of paper and read
a bible verse, Psalm 23: “the Lord is my shepherd…..”
The DA listed the counts against Chris…and he had to respond to each one.
He only hesitated at one..I don’t remember which it was.
And can’t assume to know why he hesitated. I would like to think
it’s because of the gravity of the crime that was hitting him,
and not that he wanted to back out of his plea.
He never looked over at us. Just at his parents the few times he
turned around when sitting or leaving.
The judge never hammered down his gavel like I pictured always happened in a court room.
too much tv for me I guess.
But the judge accepted his plea and said some kind words to all of us.
It seriously felt like we should have been in a movie.
It didn’t seem real.
I remember at one point looking around and going…how did we get here?
I felt like I could just close my eyes tight enough and
open them we would be in another time.
It was just a sad day. all around.
Happy to have this earthly justice. But there is no profound sense of peace.
just lots of sadness right now.
I’m not angry.. so I suppose that’s something. I’m glad that her family
doesn’t have to go to another courthouse or the suspense of the pending court dates.
A blog reader messaged me earlier this week…. she had gone through a
cross and losing someone she loves.. she told me how she is like a cup now.
that you come to a point where you can keep filling up day to day but then
something will happen and you will overflow. and that’s that hard day. I feel like a
cup right now. Some days you are ok and you are just filling up but getting through.
but then you hit that point where you overflow and need to cry…
and then you are ready to be filled again.
Thank you for all the prayers for us there that day.
They were felt.
I felt a grace in the room, that her parents were able to stay so strong.
Please continue to pray for Shannon’s children and family.
And all of us who miss her every day.
Shannon’s wish was granted, that her children be safe from him.
I’m putting my faith in God right now and loving on my family.
Praying He will help heal my heart and help me to forgive and not be filled with regret.
I still struggle regularly thinking about how shannon would have loved this, or we would have done this.
I know I should be grateful for that last voicemail she left me..
But in my mind I just wish it would have actually come through on
my phone BEFORE instead of after she was taken from us.
I wish that that trip to meet in charlotte with our kiddos would have actually happened…
just weeks away. I hold onto that still. And I hold onto a lot of regret for not being present
in atlanta. Not being there enough. I know that it is useless to burden my heart like that,
but I’m just not there yet to let it go. praying for that peace.
I know it’ll come.
I just have to give it up to Him.
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
I would like to think that if Shannon was alive today,we would be doing this in front of our kids and making them laugh.
Today I went through the Arby’s drive thru.
You might think it’s weird…but it makes me think of Shannon.
I’ve only gone a few times since she was killed.It’s been almost two and a half years..but I still have the hardest time typing out “killed.”A part of me finds it easier to write lost or taken. But the truth is.. she was killed… by an act of Domestic Violence. And sadly, it is the reality of our world, that so many face this.Almost every time I turn on the news there is a story covering domestic violence.They might not use those words…but thattt is the situation they are describing!
As I drove towards ben’s work to treat him with a surprise lunch delivery…
the smell of the curly fries made me flash back to high school days in atlanta…
When we would go to XLT (praise and worship night) at a local Catholic High School.
They would have music, a talk and adoration. It was a weekly thing we all went to.
We would all hang out there for a bit then get in our cars to head to brusters across the street.
It was usually a big group of us. Toni or shannon would usually end up getting a piggy back ride from someone. I remember cramming onto this one bench and the boys would be goofing off making us laugh.
Their was an arby’s next to the
ice cream place..and sometimes we would leave the group and run over for the
curly fries and milk shakes.
The smell made me remember.
Shannon’s curly hair and her pea coat. our matching american eagle jeans!
The scarves she made all of us girls one year,
How we sang in the cars dashboard confessional!
Being silly and just..joyful.
My heart sunk.
It was too close. It felt too familiar.
A second later I felt overwhelmed and partially
regretting the decision to get curly fries…
And I cried.
A song came on k love.
“Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death.
Come awake! Come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave!
Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake! Come awake!
All I know is that after I heard that song…
I felt peace in my heart that God has already won
He has conquered death.
We can be together with Him again.
I wiped my tears and had a moment where I felt
like my heart had been heard.
So… next time you’re thinking arby’s,
think that. ;) God has already won.
Peace for all of you missing someone.
SPEAK OUT AND GET HELP! or HELP someone else.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
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.