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April 17, 2012
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When I think of Mom, I think of her beautiful smile, her endless laughter, really cool accent, and her loving personality. She was my hero, best friend, the one I turned to for everything. She told me everything, down to her deepest, darkest secrets. She trusted Chris and me with every inch of her being. But when that day came, we made the wrong decision that affected us for the rest of our lives.

On Wednesday March 23, 2011, Mom had just started working a night shift running heavy equipment, which she was very experienced at (everybody claimed she was the hardest, best worker they had ever seen), so she got to spend the morning with us, but she had to leave for work at two o’clock.

We were staying at Grandma Mary’s cozy, little house in Topeka, Kansas because Dad had been fighting with Mom and I, and he was getting extremely abusive, both emotionally, and physically. To everyone else, we seemed like the perfect family the week before, even on Saturday, but when Sunday came around, things took a turn for the worst so fast, we didn’t even see it coming. Chris, Mom and I went and stayed the night at the Red Roof Inn in Holton, Kansas on Sunday night because things were getting rough, and Dad had been drunk, got angry, then went outside to burn the pasture, which then forced us to call the police, making him even more furious. On Monday morning, Chris and Mom dropped me off at Grandma Mary’s house and decided to go back home and see how Dad would act without me being there, since he was mainly just trying to hurt me. Whenever Mom ever stood up for me, he always turned on her and blamed her for my mistakes.

Meanwhile, when Chris and Mom went home, Dad wasn’t any better. He was trying to hurt Mom most of the night, although she did absolutely nothing to provoke him. Dad never tried to harm Chris because he was Dad’s “buddy,” as Dad liked to call him, and he thought that Chris was always on his side. They got sick of his bullying really fast and decided to come on down to Grandma Mary’s to spend the night. At about five in the morning, we awoke to the sound of loud, continuous beating on the windows of the room we were staying in. My heart nearly leaped right out of my chest because instantly my senses were on high alert. Mom told us to get down because she didn’t know if he had a gun or not, and our shadows were presenting themselves on the wall and windows. The pounding continued and Mom was panicking. She was petrified. Mom decidedly snuck over to the door and talked to Dad. As it turned out, all he wanted was the license plate because he was going to go trade it in at the courthouse in Holton. Whew! What a relief! Mom gave him the plate, and he was out of there in a heartbeat.

At about six a.m. on Tuesday morning, Mom went to get a restraining order on Dad because she asked us what we thought, and we told her that we didn’t have a choice anymore. She had to get the restraining order. On her way there, she passed Dad on the gravel road, and he was smiling his head off. She arrived at the courthouse, and they told her that Dad had already gotten a restraining order against her and custody of Chris. She started bawling her eyes out and begging for them to change it. She explained everything that he had done to us, down to him beating up my legs and arms the couple months before. The man told her that he was in shock, and that he would change it immediately.

Later that day, we were all beyond stressed out, with all the worrying of what Dad was up to and if he was going to injure any of us. Mom had been thinking about going in to work, but decided against it because she wanted to keep us safe and make sure Dad didn’t try to do anything to Grandma Mary or us. We were told not to text or call Dad at all because of the restraining order. They said that if we had any contact at all, Mom would be arrested. All day long, Dad kept trying to call us and was leaving all of us loads of messages. We found out that day that Dad was tracking our cell phones on the ATT Family Map, and knew our exact locations at all times, which scared us to our inner core. He had never done anything like this before, but then again he wasn’t on drugs like this before either. Dad was on amphetamines, marijuana, uppers, downers, including sleeping pills, all mixed with several bottles of alcohol.

By Tuesday night, everything seemed fine, until Dad started calling us again. One right after the other, the calls were streaming in. He was trying to wake us up; he knew Mom was going to work tomorrow, he knew us too well. When nobody answered the calls, they began to cease altogether. With our hearts pounding out of our chests, we fell into a deep slumber…down…down…right into Wednesday.
Wednesday, we all thought, was going to be a great day. It started out that way, anyway. Mom and I left the house early to go file for divorce. We didn’t know this yet, but Dad was really struggling. Not only did he think he lost his family, but also his best friend, son, and confidant, Chris. When he filed a restraining order, the court date was set for April seventh, but he would never wait that long.

On our way to the lawyer, Mom and I walked out of the courthouse, the best of friends, arm and arm; I distinctly remember her commenting, “Wow! This feels great! It just feels like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and I don’t have a worry in the world.” Those words made me feel so good inside, like my heart was nearly bounding out of my chest, like those butterflies in my stomach that had been making a home in there were fluttering away, a moment of pure and utter happiness. We meandered on into the attorney’s office and took a seat. We told him everything, down to exactly what Dad said on the voicemails, which by the way, was totally illegal because of the restraining order. This guy was a lively old man, full of spirit and smiles. He explained how much he charged and how we were going to get Dad for all the terror he had caused our family.

After that, we went next door to the pizza place for breakfast and a tad-bit of relaxation. Something, something in the back of my mind was telling me to tell Mom to stay home today, to not go into work, but of course, I never said a word.

We moved on now, on to Wal-Mart, home of the so-called “low prices” and grungy hobos. Mom and I were going to pick up a couple things before we went back to Grandma Mary’s. On our way home, we turned our phones back on, since we had turned them off on the way there so that Dad couldn’t track us.

When we arrived at Grandma Mary’s we only had about an hour before Mom had to head off to work. We hurriedly ate lunch and Mom gave us all humongous hugs, as if she thought she would never see us again. Almost instantly, I felt this aching, terrifying, crippling fear in the pit of my stomach. I had never felt anything like this in my life. It was as if the devil himself had burrowed within the depths of my mind. I told myself that everything was going to be fine, and that Dad couldn’t hurt a fly, and that things couldn’t get any worse than they already were…wrong thought.

Mom, with her beaming face, bubbly mind-set, and loving persona, the mom everyone loved and cherished, left at about two o’clock, murmuring what we didn’t know would be her most meaningful goodbyes.

After Mom left, we watched T.V. for a couple of hours and then at around 5:45, I went to go take a shower. I had just finished, when I heard Grandma Mary thumping down the stairs, gasping for breath yelling, “Chey! Chey! Your dad called!! He says he shot your momma!! Get up here! Hurry! He left a message on Chris’s voicemail saying he killed her! Oh God! Oh God!” She launched herself back up the stairway, the fastest I had ever seen her run, with her terrified tears racing down her cherry-red cheeks. I flung on some clothes, not caring a bit what I looked like; I was sick out of my mind right then. My heart was in my throat and felt like it was about to explode as I bounded up the stairs, hastily darted over to Chris, all the while thinking “Oh God, please let it be another lie! Please just let it not be true!” Chris was looking at me with his sweet, innocent, tear-filled eyes, full of his father’s betrayal. He pressed the play button on his voicemail, and we all waited impatiently for the news nobody wanted to hear, nor could believe. Mom is dead. He murdered her. And he loves us?!?

“AHHH! I hate him so much!!!” I fell to my knees, no longer caring if I ever got hurt again, or even died for that matter. “Nooo! Mom! NO! You…he…he can’t, he couldn’t have!!” I was screaming my lungs out, my heart shattered; I no longer cared anymore. Its over…our lives are over. I just couldn’t believe it! I whipped out my phone and dialed Mom’s number. Please, please answer! Oh God! Oh God! No!! This can’t be happening! …no answer…redial. “Momma come on! Answer! You have to! Don’t leave us here! We need you!” My head was about to explode. This can’t be happening! …no answer… No! She always answers! One more try! “Mom! Answer your damn phone!” I never cuss, but at this moment, it was a necessity. No answer.

I crumpled to the floor screaming, wailing, listening to the cries and whimpers of my brother and grandma, wishing I could just go back and change the past, fix everything, make it okay, never have them go through this. It’s all my fault…all my fault…all my fault, the only words that existed in that moment.

“No! No! I’ll call Tracy and see if they know anything!” I could faintly hear Grandma Mary’s voice in the back of my mind as our world came crashing down around us. Nothing mattered. Not anymore. I stood up, trying, but failing, to look as strong as I possibly could for Chris and Grandma Mary, even though I was falling apart inside. We listened to Grandma Mary call Aunt Tracy. Lee was calling the Kansas City Police Station to find out more information. We waited, and waited, and waited, until we were just numb, both inside and out.

Just then, Grandma Mary’s home phone rings, presenting even more life-threatening danger. The caller I.D. reads: 785-506-4497, Dad’s number. We let it go to voicemail and he left the most filthy, scary, horrifying message I had ever heard. The part I remember the most says something like, “…Well hello there Mary…did you hear? I killed your daughter… HAHAHA! … She is gone now. She was a filthy whore, just like her mother. Your next b****…I’m coming for you…don’t run…” click. He hung up. Chris and I stood there in the living room of Grandma Mary’s once cozy, comforting, quaint little house just staring at each other in horror, mouths agape. My first thought was “Oh God, this can’t be happening! If he actually comes here, I’ll risk my life to save Chris and Grandma Mary. I don’t care what he does to me! He’s done enough! It’s over!”

Just as it ended, Grandma Mary came rushing inside, we didn’t even know she was out there, and blurted, “Go! Go to the basement! He’s going to try to kill us! Hide!” We hurried to the basement as fast as our little legs could carry us and we all huddled together underneath the stairs, shivering, maybe because we were sitting in a puddle of water in a freezing cold basement, maybe because of the fear that was vibrating up and down my spine. None of us cared if we were all wet, slimy, or even covered in spiders. This was life or death, we either fight or give it all up and we chose to fight to the very end.

“No…no…no… I just want to die… I don’t deserve to live anymore… If Dad comes down here, I’ll risk my life to save you two.” I kept whispering it over and over to myself, just out of Chris and Grandma Mary’s hearing range.

It all began happening so fast after that; Tracy finally called us back and, bawling her poor little eyes out, reported that her sister was dead, that the death was confirmed, and that the police were on their way. When the police arrived, they comforted us, got us out of the basement and told us to drive to the safe rooms in the police station. It was nearly seven o’clock now and we were still nerve-wracked about what happened to Dad and if he hurt or planned on harming anyone else. The police said that a white male by the name of Jim was on the run, so I figured he would kill himself before he ever went to jail. He told us that that was what he would do if it ever came to that.

While we were at the police station, Mom’s whole family came in the tiny safe room with only enough room for two sofas, a chair, table, and a small play space for my cousin’s toddler to play in. We talked and cried about all the fun and good times that everybody shared with my momma, Leslie. At about one-thirty in the morning, a deputy slipped into the room and we all looked expectantly at him. He reported the news that James had committed suicide. Relief washed over me like Niagara Falls in the middle of a flood. Its over… no more worrying, fighting for our lives, or being abused. Some people say that you can’t grow up overnight. I say that that’s not true… nothing is impossible.

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