Today marks the fifth anniversary of the murder of one of my dear friends and her parents. I’m sure I’ve already talked about this to some extent before, but today seems so unreal. Half a decade. How can half a decade have gone by without this chick blowing up my phone and being furious with people on my behalf?
When I was sixteen I was cadet teaching driver’s ed during summer school, and a group of my friends were in the class. We were all pretty tight, and we talked a lot. When one of our friends quit answering text messages, which was WAY out of character for her, some of us started getting a bad feeling. On June 9, 2009, when we were on break from class, I had gone to the restroom and when I came back, some of my girl friends were really upset; someone had been saying that our friend was dead. Of course, we had been anxious, and we wanted to know what was going on, and since our friend and her parents hadn’t been answering calls or texts, we called my mom. I was scared. I was so, so scared of what my mom would have to say. I gave my phone to one of the girls, and when she asked my mom about our friend, she got her reply and burst into tears, handing me the phone. When I got the phone, my mom told me she was so sorry, that she hadn’t wanted me to find out this way. She said that our friend’s mother’s friend had called and told her that she had gone to check on them and that now our friend was reunited with her dad in Heaven. Needless to say, we were devastated; we were sobbing our eyes out, and the teachers didn’t know what to do with us so they took us to the office and told us that there was nothing wrong, that the person that told my mom what had happened couldn’t really know, and blah blah blah. My mom, being the epic mommy that she is, came to get me. I will never, NEVER forget driving past their street in a torrential downpour and seeing all those flashing lights outside their house. I cried the whole way home, and when I got home and saw my daddy, he hugged me, and I literally just fell to the floor; I just couldn’t imagine it. How would life ever be the same without her? She was one of the most upbeat people I have ever met. She was funny and lively, and sometimes her exuberance was downright obnoxious, but it was just something we all loved about her. This girl? She had a gift. She could sing better than about anyone else I know. I have a CD of five songs that she used to sing at competitions or karaoke type things, and even when I hear the songs sung by the original artist I hear her, not them. For the longest time, I couldn’t listen to Famous in a Small Town by Miranda Lambert, because it was the last song I ever heard my friend sing, and it was suddenly true of her and her parents.
On top of dealing with loss and hurt, any time we had a thing in the park to remember them, news crews inevitably showed up, whether we had publicized what was going to be happening or not. Those people were like vultures. Seriously, I put flowers over by their house, and then I held hands with my mom and one of my friends and was walking away, and they were taking pictures. They were asked not to film during the funeral service, but they did that, too. They would ask us to talk about how we felt, and some of my friends would, but I straight up told one dude that it wasn’t the rest of the world’s business how I felt about her or the situation, because they (her and her parents) knew how I felt and that was what mattered.
Within a few days of the funeral, we found out that one of her own relatives was the person that had killed them, and it took four long, hard years for him to ever go on trial. I wanted to go to the trial, but then I realized there would probably be crime scene photos, and I changed my mind. As much as I wanted to go, I wanted to remember them how they had been, not how they were in death. The man who killed them was found guilty, and his punishment is the death penalty.
My friend’s death had a big impact on my life. Not only did I lose three highly important people in my life, but I also gained a new anxiety. No one broke into my friends’ house and killed them, but ever since then I have been perpetually terrified of intruders and creepers, and I’ve lost a lot of sleep over it. I also have a hard time watching scenes in movies where people get shot in the head, or shot fatally at all if we’ve grown to have an attachment to the character. That scene in one of those Fast and the Furious movies where Letty gets shot? I started sobbing; I couldn’t deal with it and it was completely fake. There are so many times I’ve wished that my friend was still alive. When I felt my lowest, my mom and my friend’s sister would remind me that my friend’s mom wouldn’t want me to be so down all the time about them; she’d want me to live my life and be happy. I’m always going to wish my friend was alive. I’m never going to stop missing her or her parents. I’m also never going to stop feeling sad for the things she missed out on, and I know she’s having a better time up there in Heaven than any of us are having here on earth, but I still hate that she never got to go to prom, or college, or have her first kiss, or boyfriend. I hate that we’ll never get to see all the amazing things she could have done. I hate that I lost such a dear friend. Another way that my life was impacted was that I really struggled to be a Christian person where their murderer was concerned. Anyone can turn to God at any time, and it horrified me to think that the guy might not get punished here on earth, and then if he turned to God he wouldn’t get punished in the afterlife either. Thankfully, my mom and my grandma really talked me through this, and made me see that he would be punished one way or another, and that I should pray for him instead of despising him, because he wasn’t worth going to Hell over. I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy to pray for your enemy, because it’s not. When I first started praying for the dude, I would start crying because it just seemed crazy to be doing that. I don’t really pray for him anymore, but I’ve, mostly, come to terms with the fact that one way or another he’ll be punished.
People joke around that country songs take a page out of someone’s life and set it to music, and it’s true:
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.” –Not a Day Goes By, Lonestar
“It ain’t fair. You died too young, like a story that had just begun, then death tore the pages all away. . . Sometimes I wonder who you’d be today.”-Who You’d Be Today, Kenny Chesney
“I’m not crying cause I feel so sorry for you; I’m crying for me.”-Cryin’ For Me, Toby Keith
“But you went away. How dare you. I miss you. They say I’ll be okay, but I’m not going to ever get over you. It really sinks in, you know, when I see it in stone.”-Over You, Miranda Lambert
“I will see you again. This is not where it ends. I will carry you with me, til I see you again.”-See You Again, Carrie Underwood
“Why did she have to go? So young I just don’t know why? Things happen half the time without reason, without rhyme.”-Sissy’s Song, Alan Jackson
“It’s hard to say goodbye. Her picture in my mind will always be of times I’ll cherish, and I won’t cry because she flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels by the clouds and stars and past where no one sees and she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting and I know she’s smiling saying don’t worry ’bout me”-Sissy’s Song, Alan Jackson
Don’t take your loved ones for granted.