Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The first entry in my journal

Apparently I made the first entry on July 18, 1999. I have left it intact, as I wrote it:

July 13, 1999, the day my granddaughter died. July 17th we buried her. On July 22nd she would have celebrated her 4th birthday. She would have, except that her life was beaten out of her by her step-father, all because she had a tantrum. Maybe her mother beat her too, it’s too early to know. At the very least, her mother knew and did nothing to save her.

When I received the call that Jeff had killed Bethanie, my life was forever changed. I knew as I was crying out in agony on the floor that part of me had died a huge part. I felt in shock as Tim drove me to Akron. Waves of pain flooded over me, pain for my lost little Bethanie, and pain for my son. My son who was now enduring the worst pain a human can endure. My 23 year old baby, just six weeks before his wedding, has lost his baby to the hands of another.

Throughout the night I went from pain to numbness, sometimes both in minutes, I wanted to kill them for taking our girl from us forever. I wanted to kill them for cheating us out of all the time we could have had with her before, because now we can never hope for more.

I didn’t sleep that night. Each time I dozed off, I awoke suddenly, awash in the horror of what her last moments must have been like; in anger because we might have gotten her out if Megan had let Mark see the girls on that Monday. Anger because if they didn’t want her, we would have taken her. The next day was terrible. We went back to Akron and spent the day going about the business of grieving. We dealt with Children’s Services, with funeral details, with caring friends and relatives. We tried not to be angry with one another amid the heat, the chaos, the raw pain. Sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we didn’t. We worried about Chelsea. What would happen to her? How would we get her without money to pay for an attorney? Her uncle Charles and aunt Christy had her, but would they give her up? There was word that Megan and Jeff were charged with murder, word of bail, then no bail. Fear that they would be at the funeral.

On Thursday we went to the custody hearing for Chelsea. Custody was removed from Megan – she was legally stripped of the the rights that she gave up the first time she ignored her daughters’ cries. We all felt a sense of relief, Chelsea would soon be with us, and for the first time since the horror began, we could see her. Later that day we bought Bethanie’s burial dress. I hated the look of horror on the clerks faces when they realized who we were.

Friday morning was horrible. It was the first time I was alone with my pain. I had many things to do, and no strength to do them. I had to call about bills that were due, pick up the casket spray, fill up my car. Duties of normal life, interspersed with the duties of grief. I cried a lot, being alone was not good. Between errands, I came home to cry. When I picked up the casket spray, I nearly fainted when I saw how little it was. It still felt like some horrible nightmare that I would surely awaken from any moment. I took the flowers to the funeral home and then went to sit uselessly while I watched my son’s heart breaking. The pain of my loss and of helplessly watching my son’s pain still continued to rise up like bile.

A woman from Victim’s Assistance came to offer hope. There was hope of financial help, hope of legal help, and hope of support. Behind the scenes, all of our friends in Newcomerstown were supporting us. Food arrived, flowers and offers of help in preparing for Chelsea’s arrival.

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