Those periods are nothing alike.
Before Kelly-Anne was murdered, my life was relatively lighthearted and fun. I had a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and a handful of friends who I simply knew I would be friends with forever. I worked hard in school and had tons of part time jobs, but I also thoroughly enjoyed an abundant life. I volunteered at my church. I studied like crazy (usually at the last minute). I went on crazy road trips and adventures. And I loved entertaining people with my stories and antics.
I once told a professor in grad school when I was in the throes of dealing with a mouse invasion in my ground floor apartment building that having mice was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
His response? "You're lucky to have had such a wonderful life."
I had no idea how true that was until a few years later when I woke up to an early morning phone call that informed me Kelly-Anne had been stabbed in the head and was in the hospital on life support with injuries that would prove fatal.
After Kelly-Anne was attacked I was more cynical. Less willing to put myself out there. Less tolerant of wasted time and energy--because, really, who knows how much time we've got left? I was also sad. Sad that Kell was dead and sad that it was completely unnecessary. My grief colored my worldview for a lot longer than I cared to admit. Things that once meant something to me began to be meaningless.
I found it hard to go to church, to participate in the community, to feel joyful. I knew in my heart I still had much to be grateful for but it was hard to really believe that on a day-to-day basis.
But still, God was with me.
I can see looking back how protected I was. Do you know that I have never once dreamed about Kelly-Anne since her death? I am one of those people who often remembers dreams and is occasionally even woken up by them if they are particularly upsetting or exciting.
In the days, months, and years that followed Kell's murder, her parents and our friends would often tell me they were kept up at night by dreams about Kell. I never was. It was as if God realized that I needed to sleep in order to be able to even remotely function at my job--which, at the time, was brand new. I thought about Kell nonstop during the day. But at night I was able to rest peacefully.
After a little while things became somewhat normal again. The new normal, I call it. I began to function at more than a basic level. I made a couple of new friends. I showed interest in things I once loved.
But still I deeply felt Kelly-Anne's loss.
It's been one of the themes of my life these past years--a leitmotif, if you will. I try my hardest to put a positive spin on it (hilarious, really, because there's no positive spin) by drawing attention to the lessons I think we should learn from Kell's life. And I work really hard to try to make sure Kelly-Anne is remembered, not just for her brutal death, but for how she lived and what she loved.
I think we--and by that I mean everyone who loved Kelly-Anne--have done a pretty good job making sure she's remembered in the community.
Thank you to all of you who take the time each year to tell us you still miss Kelly-Anne and still think of her. It means the world to us.
|Kelly-Anne checking things out in a film studio during her extended trip to California one summer.|