This is an article I was asked to write for a local newspaper/website back home. I had commented on a blog regarding a local girl who was murdered by her boyfriend, and was asked to share my experience.
This is my story.
It’s around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 5, 1987, and there’s a knock at my door. My first thought is: “Who is this, and how dare they wake me at this hour?” I open the door, and there is my brother. “Edmund has shot Vicki and Dad,” he says.
I’m half asleep and thinking, “She’s been shot in the arm, she’ll be all right.”
We rush to the hospital. My father is there; he’s got stains all over his shirt. I’m not sure what it is.
He cries out: “She’s gone!”
The room starts to spin, this cannot be happening. GONE? DEAD? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
My chest hurts, it’s getting hard to breathe. Make it stop! Make my mother and father stop crying! Make the room stop spinning! My world as I know it has changed, a change I don’t think I can bear. My sister Vicki is dead.
The police have surrounded Edmund’s house. In my mind I see him killing himself, he’s realizing what he has done. His brother has talked him into turning himself in. The police take him into custody.
I’m at my Mothers’ house now. There are people all around me, friends, police, family. Everything seems to be moving a million miles a minute. This isn’t happening, it can’t be!
The kids. I learn the kids saw it all. Her two-year-old daughter was in bed with her when it happened.
Her five-year-old son was in the next room, and had to step over his mothers’ dead body to get out of the house. When asked how he got out of the house he says, “I flew out on a kite.”
My sister’s house is in shambles. There’s black everywhere, fingerprint powder I learn later. The bedroom door is broken in half, the door my ex-brother-in-law broke through to shoot my Vicki.
I feel like I have to help in some way, I have to do something. The room needs to be cleaned. I pick up the rug as blood drips to the floor.
A family friend tells me to leave, I shouldn’t be here. Yes, I do damn it! She’s my sister!
There are people everywhere. I can’t stop moving, if I do, the knife in my heart is twisted a little more. My mother will not stop crying, I think she is losing her mind. I can’t look at her, to see that pain on her face is too unbearable.
The children do not understand what has happened. They have a new song they’re singing, “Daddy go upstairs, Daddy go downstairs, Mommie’s dead.” Please, make them stop!
A week has past, and it’s back to the hospital, this time to watch my first born son come into this world. What was to be the most joyous time in my life has become a mass of emotions.
How can I be happy at a time like this? This is supposed to be a time for my family to share this joy. … Someone, anyone, make this all stop!
It’s time for the memorial service. It’s a rainy, cold day. I have never seen so many people in one place. People are turned away at the door due to fire codes. I cannot hear what the pastor is saying, there is too much noise in my head. I cannot see everyone who is there, the tears will not stop.
I do not want to be here, I know I am losing my mind. My sister is not in that box, she can’t be …
The days now all seem to be jumbled together. It’s now Christmas. My mother sits in her chair as the children open their presents. My God, she has aged 20 years in one month. I see her forcing a smile on her face for the kids, She knows she has to hold herself together for them.
To see that look of pain and false joy is too much for me. Once again, I have to look away.
I’m worried about my brother. I have not seen him cry through any of this. I tell him, “Kyle, you have to cry, you have to mourn Vicki’s death.” He says, “Just because I’m not crying, does not mean I am not mourning.”
I am now starting to understand that we are all dealing with this pain in our own way.
My father is healing from his injury, but he’s not the same man. I know his battle with his alcoholism, I know this is going to kill him. Without even realizing it, my own battle with alcoholism has returned.
The pain comes again, time for another drink. I go get a couple of bottles and head to my quiet place that has become my second home, down by the river. The more I drink, the more I cry. I battle with the urge to jump in the river and give up, the only thing that stops me is the thought of that look of raw pain being on my mother’s face again.
My marriage is starting to crumble, and I don’t even care. No one understands how I feel, no one wants to talk about it. I hope someone will ask me how I’m doing, ask me about what has happened, but no one knows what to say.
My wife can no longer handle my being drunk all the time, and we decide it is time to part. I move in with my father and the pain that has been building inside me is becoming a deep depression.
I’m standing on the chair, one end of the rope around my neck, the other end wrapped around a beam in the garage. I know if I kick that chair, the pain will stop.
Something stops me. I don’t know if it’s the thought of Vicki seeing me do it, or the thought of my son being without a father.
It’s a few weeks later and I’m back in the garage, this time with the barrel of a gun in my mouth. This has all become too overwhelming. I can’t handle it. I know in my heart I am losing my mind.
I decide it’s time to seek professional help. The doctor tells me I will have to forgive Edmund to overcome this, it’s part of the healing process.
“You can go to hell,” I say as I leave his office. I know in my mind forgiveness is something I will never feel.
I try to stay away from my mother and the Kids, who are now in the legal process of becoming my brother and sister. I know in my heart that they need us as a family, but I feel I am betraying my sister by not being their uncle anymore.
I know my mother is struggling to give the kids what they need, but I need to distance myself from them, the pain is more when I’m with them.
Now it’s time for the trial. I feel I will not rest until he is in prison for the rest of his life. Everyone looks so fake, the jurors, the lawyers, the rest of the people in the court room.
Things are starting to come back to me.
Wrestling with my sister at my grandmother’s house, Vicki’s sunglasses fall off to reveal two black eyes.
Vicki two weeks before her death telling me of Edmund’s abuse.
“If you go back to him, he’ll kill you.” Little did I know.
I’m not really hearing what’s being said in court. For a brief moment, I expect Vicki to come through that door, this has all been a plan to get Edmund once and for all. They have all conspired to finally get Edmund off the street.
I snap back to reality as the coroner’s report is being introduced into evidence. I learn that she was shot at point blank range, the bullet fracturing her skull in two places. It’s killing me to listen, but I have to.
Edmund has now been sentenced to 60 years for murder. He walks out of the courtroom with guards on both sides of him.
Now everything is red. I go towards him and say “smile now you bastard.” The guards grab me and stop me. In my mind, I want him to die at my hands, now it’s his turn.
There, the trial is over, he’s in prison, now the pain will go away.
It is now July 8, 1997. After repeated tries of recovery from my alcoholism, I know this is my last try. If I cannot succeed this time, I’m checking out. I know deep in my heart, if I am to recover, I need to get over the death of Vicki.
I write her a letter telling her just how I feel. I also write Edmund a letter about how I feel. It all comes easy. I know neither one of them will ever read them. I talk in groups about my pain, I share with anyone who will listen about it. I know the more I share, the better I feel. “Joy shared is doubled; pain shared is halved.”
I have been able to forgive Edmund through much soul searching. Vicki’s son has graduated from high school, and her daughter has just entered high school. I have never talked with them over what happened. I still do not know what to say to them.
People say that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. I have a hole inside me that will never be healed.
I may be able to deal with it, but it will never be gone. Whenever I hear of a case of domestic violence that ends up in a death, my heart goes out to both families.
Vicki was not the only victim. She had people around her that all became victims. Edmund had people in his life who became victims.
If you, or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please seek help: The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Please share this story so others will realize where domestic violence can lead to, and the whirlwind of pain and devastation it leaves behind. Someone you know may be keeping painful secrets from you.