Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another season of memories

My husband and I own a greenhouse where we grown and sell flowers and shrubs. Bethanie's favorite things were flowers and butterflies, so we named it Bethanie's Greenhouse. Every year, as we sell flowers, someone wants to know who Bethanie is. I always give them the same reply, "She was my granddaughter who has passed away; we named it after her because she loved flowers". Oddly enough, it is not my own grief that causes me sadness, but the reaction of others. They're expressions of compassion are what really get to me. If they would just keep on chit-chatting or something it would have less of an impact on me. I can't explain that, it just is. I still remember when we went to buy a dress for her funeral. We needed to ask the store clerk for help finding a long-sleeved dress in July. The clerk wanted to know if it was for a party. When I told her what the dress was for it broke my heart to see the tears welling up in her eyes. It hurt me to hurt her. Does that make sense?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Signs of Abuse

Children get bruised, no question about it. For a long time I wondered how one can tell the difference between an innocuous bruise acquired on the monkey bars, versus an ominous bruise dealt by an angry parent. Bethanie had bruises off an on, but her mother explained each one in what seemed a logical fashion at the time. Bethanie's sister, Chelsea, has Down Syndrome and was frequently blamed for the bruises on Bethanie. When Bethanie started to get thin, we didn't question it. Most of our family are very thin (except me, of course), so we just thought she was maturing a bit. The best piece of advice about how to know when a bruise isn't just a bruise came from the coroner. He said, "Children are in forward motion all the time. When you start seeing bruises in places other than the front of them, it's time to start investigating". Wise words, in my opinion, simple yet brilliant. Keep it in mind, please, the next time you aren't sure about that bruise.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The poem "Pink Houses" was written shortly following Bethanie's murder. My father had an unpainted shed that Bethanie and her sister Chelsea spent the day playing house in. Bethanie told me that she was going to paint it pink, with pink carpet, pink curtains, pink chairs, and pink potties. There would be two of everything because Chelsea was going to live there, too. I will never forget the imagination and joy in her face that day, thus the inspiration for the poem.

All dressed up in jewelry and high heels
She gave us a glimspe of the woman she might be.
For her, we had lofty plans and ideals,
All dreams we would never see.

She touched our lives with sweetness and grace,
She brought rays of sunshine to each day.
We lived to see the smile on her face,
We never thought she'd be taken away.

Those charged with her protection
Took her from the world that night,
We wonder, upon reflection,
What gave them that right?

Anger seesaws with sadness,
Strength dissolves into tears.
What kind of terrible madness
Robbed her of so many years?

Now all we can do is long for her smile
And ache for her touch,
Thinking all the while,
"I didn't know I could hurt this much."

Our angel is forever safe,
Lying in the arms of her Lord.
I know he holds our little waif,
Because it's written in His word.

Pink houses and a little girl's play,
I know someday I'll hold her again.
How I long for that glorious day
When Bethanie says "Grandma, where have you been?