Dear Inquisitive Skink,
I do recall that time, the media, how within a short span, another young woman was murdered by her husband. The community still recovers from such tragedies. Conversations about domestic violence need to be held by adults in the community. Conversations and real information needs to be offered in every school, beginning with middle-school and onward. A required class, for all graduates from high-schools, universities and colleges. Such information would benefit every community well. I think for a real understanding to be developed, each class would be a semester and designed around understanding domestic violence as it exist within our unique communities, the cost (mentally, physically, and spiritual) to the individual, children, community; preventatives, and resources to be aware of if you wake up some morning and find that this is your life.
Women and men, as Maya Anjelou said (not an exact quote) “If a person shows themselves to you, believe them”. If a snake says, I am a poisonous snake, you don’t treat it like a corn snake.
Recently, I participated in two memorial services. The first was a friend, aged 91, and the other, a young woman in her 60’s. Each good-by was beautiful and uniquely different, yet each shared this Epitaph poem by Meredith Malloy. I hope to hold these words ever close within reach of my mind and heart.
When I die
Give what’s left of me away
And old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
Cry for your brother
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me,
Put your arms around anyone
And give them
What you need to give to me.
I want to leave you something,
Than words or sounds.
Look for me
In the people I’ve known or loved.
And if you cannot give me away,
At least let me live on in your eyes
And not on your mind.
You can love me the most
By letting hands touch hands,
By letting bodies touch bodies
And by letting go
That need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, People do.
So, when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
I’ll see you at home
In the earth.
This poem by C.P.Cavafy (thank you to Margot for the link) continues the melancholy tone started by my post about Jannifer. I will perk up soon. These words are too lovely.
Imagined voices, and beloved, too,
of those who died, or of those who are
lost unto us like the dead.
Sometimes in our dreams they speak to us;
sometimes in its thought the mind will hear them.
And with their sound for a moment there return
sounds from the first poetry of our life—
like music, in the night, far off, that fades away.
I don’t know why Jannifer has been on my mind lately.
Sometimes I think it is odd how a person’s life and death can affect someone.
Jannifer was someone I thought I was going to get to know better, and then didn’t get to do so. My friend Leslie ran a program popular with a lot of homeschoolers called Children’s Garden, and Jannifer had generously allowed full use of her house for the myriad of art writing and music activities Leslie had created for them. Jannifer herself wasn’t there during Children’s Garden most of the time. I do have memories of Jannifer handing over delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies to a swarm of kids; her helping with the May Day Maypole dance (Leslie was famous for these…..what a tangled cheery funny mess!), and sharing a rolling eyes humorous moment when her son and Leslie’s son had been tormenting my daughter Jenna with a dead lizard. Jannifer was easy to be around and possessed a very kind and bright spirit.
Nine years ago, I got the children herded like cats into the van and headed to Leslie’s house…..Children’s Garden hadn’t been held at Jannifer’s for some time. I rarely watched or listened to the news so was oblivious to what was going on in the world. Hopped out of the van and was immediately greeted by Leslie flooding with tears with the news of Jannifer’s murder. I and other moms did our best to shake of the daze of the how – what – why – impossible – no no no no no no no! experience so that we could be there for Leslie whose pain was like that of someone who had lost a sister.
The Herald Times description of that day is here:
A normally quiet neighborhood southeast of Bloomington awakened to sounds of gunfire and police helicopters early Tuesday morning.
Most of the residents of Bluebird Lane and Robin Road were moved to safety or evacuated from the neighborhood between 4:30 and 8:30 a.m., after a report of a man with a gun was received by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Robert Boles shot his ex-girlfriend, Jannifer Cockrell, while she slept in her home on Bluebird Lane.
Because Boles was armed, police blocked off the area and evacuated many of the neighborhood’s residents while they searched for the man, who later shot himself in a nearby wooded area.
About 15 people, including Cockrell’s 14-year-old son, were evacuated by bus about 8:20 a.m. and taken to Jackson Creek Middle School, where the Red Cross set up a shelter in the school’s auditorium.
Prior to all of this Robert had doused his apartment with gasoline and set his apartment complex on fire destroying his and his neighbor’s apartment and sending all of the residents out onto the street for safety. He then gained entry into Jannifer’s house, let her 14 year old son outside, and proceeded to kill Jannifer.
Jannifer had a restraining order against this man. He had transformed from a person who she had thought cared about her into someone whose intense hobby was to control her and make her miserable. He was very good at his hobby. There were plenty of people who spoke about how nice of a man he was and how shocking it was that he would do such a thing. This is a very honest truth from their perspective. What people don’t realize is that most abusive partners look and act just like the rest of us in their non-intimate relationships. The clues you will get about abusive partners are going to come from their victims, not from the abuser.
As I said at the start, I am baffled as to why Jannifer has been popping into my head so much. It bothered me and I looked it up…..the anniversary of her death is tomorrow. I don’t think its about not letting go of grief. Perhaps it is a need to examine it. I am getting older….she’d be 53 going on 54 now, just like me. She would still be playing her mandolin and I’d be still wishing I could make music like that.
If you have a chance to share a Maypole dance with a bunch of kids please do so and sing and dance a bit for Jannifer too.