I chose to live.
There was a brief moment or two when it seemed it would be so much easier, so less painful to let it all end.
I cannot begin to describe the agony. Anything I say just won’t do it justice.
It hurt worse than anything I can ever imagine. Day after day, once the kids were in school and I was safely alone, I would scream and call down curses from the sky.
And God help me, I would wear myself out crying and scrubbing blood spatter stains off the trim work and walls. I don’t understand it, but no matter how hard I cleaned, it seemed to come back the next day in new places.
And then there was the anger. Early on it was a living breathing vivid thing. It was ever present and constantly smoldering.
I was angry at Paul Buckman. I was angry at his lowlife family and friends or whoever it was that had protected him or refused to acknowledge his perversions. I hated them and wished for all of their deaths.
I was angry at the criminal justice system and the judge who let him out of jail.
Just an hour before Karen and Cole were so brutally murdered, I called the investigators to get his license number because he had followed them the night before–and was denied. I was angry at them as well.
But most of all, I was angry for failing to see the threat he was–I was angry for not seeking vengeance myself for what he had done to Cole.
So add up all the anger and pain. Factor in the expectations of those who still do not understand why I had to walk away from a house, town, job, and church home. Multiply that by all the job and insurance related fear and confusion. Add in another dose of what-do-I-do-now and how-do-I-support-my-family…
What amazes me are the people who continue to second guess how I responded–and judge me still. (Walk 15 minutes in my shoes and I bet your thinking changes–but hey, I wouldn’t wish this on you for any reason…)
But into this incredible cauldron mix of conflicting and seething emotions walked an angel.
I have called her Becki Beth since she was 14. She was the best friend of my sister, Julie.
Way back when, we dated for three or four years. At some point in time, as the old Journey song goes, we entered separate ways and spent almost three decades worlds apart.
We had no contact in all those intervening years.
Yet, here she was. Not to do anything but be a friend, to be supportive, to listen.
Thankfully, she didn’t come alone–hope and laughter came with her. And grief. To this day, when I cry, she cries with me.
To those who cannot fathom my new life, I know it seems crazy. But over an admittedly short period of time, the sun began to shine anew. The stars learned how to twinkle again.
And love blossomed once more.
I know some expectations were shattered. I was supposed to be the grieving widower much longer than I was.
Yeah. Damned if you do; Damned if you don’t.
Regardless of how others think or feel, I chose to live.
Thank you, Becki, for walking this road with me. For loving my children, for loving me with such a fierce passion and protection. I love you. (And yes, on our wedding day, I know you wore that $99 promise ring I bought back in 1984… if you wear it again, please quit handing people a magnifying glass to see the diamond in it… LOL! JK!)
In the meantime, if you still don’t understand or if you just want to disapprove, all you really need to know is this: I choose to live.
What would you have done?