I have been reminded often this past season to live life deeply, and to remember that there are not always second chances. A tragic murder where I work took place. A domestic violence situation that flared suddenly into tragedy with a young woman winding up dead. Her life was snuffed out and many others were also forever damaged by this. I remain forever grateful that long ago when my family member was involved in an abusive relationship, that she eventually fled.
It is not easy. It took six years. Six years of late night calls, tearful conversations and more. I had given her a debit card with enough money for an emergency run to a hotel room if and when things ever got dangerous. She would always assure me that things were never that bad, that he was sorry. Things would change. She would change. He would stop drinking. Things would be better when he got a new job and was given credit for the amazing work he did. The litany was endless.
I was very young- between 20 and 26 during the years this took place. It used to make me so intensely angry. I could not understand how she could let this happen. How her love for this man could supplant what seemed to me just common sense. I am a different person than she. I am a martial artist. I absolutely would not for any reason stay in a relationship where I was afraid or had been harmed.
For me, the hardest part of those six years was staying in relationship with my sister while she stayed with the abuser. Not that he tried to distance us, he didn't. (which is an anomaly in abusive situations.) But watching her stay where she was unsafe, listening to the nonsense come from her about why it happened--those were the hardest things. I would offer to pay for the divorce. I would offer help in securing her own safe apartment. I would offer to help get her a car so she could get a job once she was on her own.
And it still took six years. With a persistant and steady family support, it took six years to leave. It wasn't about me. It was about her believing she could do it. Finally when her young daughter was threatened, she left. I did what I said I would do. She finished her education and got a good job. Her life is different and she is alive today, a mother and a grandmother, and married to a man who loves her and treats her with kindness.
The fall out from this incident, and another in our city just a few weeks before culminated in a domestic violence vigil at the apartment community where I work. Experts who can help those experiencing domestic violence spoke. Many who know work as advocates have previously experienced the horror of dv first hand. Their stories were chilling and yet they were also stories of hope. At the end, under a nearly full moon, we lit tiny battery candles and placed them in the grass outside. We sand Amazing Grace. We said their names, so that they will not be forgotten, so that they will be remembered as more than that final act against their defenseless bodies.
I was very emotionally depleted by the end of the vigil on Friday evening. But this weekend has been so healing and restorative. Saturday I started the morning with yoga. Then spent the day doing errands and chores. I helped my wife with two of her cleaning contracts. And today, was just amazingly special.
As a two mom family, Mothers Day has always been about my wife. I help guide the cooking and festivities to honor and celebrate all she does. When the kids were very young, there needed to be help in making gifts, etc. Now there is still coordinating that has to happen. So long story short, we don't do anything to honor me on that day.
Instead, at some random date when we can get together, we celebrate Ooma's Day. And today was that day! It started with tea and blueberry muffins in bed and continued with a hike up a local mountain. There were gifts in there too, beautiful thoughtful gifts. But what I treasure the most was todays hike together. We have not hiked much in recent years. My wife has some mobility issues caused by her frequent ankle breaks. So it was really special to hike on a stellar weather day. We noshed on the summit and then made our way back down the mountain to our car. I feel restored, my well has been replenished and I am ready to face the new week.