Strength – When You Have No Other Choice
One morning in February 2012, I woke up just like every other morning. Prince used to wake up at 3am as if he had an internal “I want to sleep with Mama for a bit” clock. He knew I woke up for work at 5am so he would get up with just enough time to sleep with me for a couple of hours. He was so used to getting his way when it came to the morning routine that he wouldn’t cry. He would look right into the baby monitor and say, “Ah? Ah? Ah?” I would roll out of bed (hair looking like a hot mess and barely able to see), grab him out of bed, and take him into the bed with me. Prince would promptly sprawl himself across my body, and happily spend the next couple of hours with Mama before I had to go to work.
Driving to work that morning, I heard the news that a man named Josh Powell had just murdered his two innocent children during a court ordered supervised visit. As I heard the news, I almost ran off the road. This story hit me hard, because I actually worried about this sort of thing happening every single day. Most people cannot imagine that level of crazy, but I was living in a nightmare packed with the kind of crazy that most people only see in movies – or hear about on the radio during their drive in to work.
When I got to work that morning, I felt like a zombie. I couldn’t stop thinking about Prince and what I would do if I didn’t have him with me. That morning, I brought up the Josh Powell story with a couple of my coworkers. I told them that I was terrified for my son, and I couldn’t imagine how I would live if something ever happened to him. I noticed that most of my coworkers were saddened by the story, but they were not able to relate the same way I was because they were not scared in the same way for their children.
Strength – when you have no other choice
Back in February 2012, I had a hard time imagining a life without my baby boy. Now, a year later, it is my reality. Many people have told me that I am the strongest person they have met, and they often wonder how I am able to make it through each day. What I often have a hard time explaining is that I was grieving for my son even before he died. I was terrified for him every single day since the day I learned what Luc was – a psychopath (July 17, 2011). Sometimes I wonder if I am able to be so strong because I have become used to this level of chaos, and desensitized to all of the bad things that can happen.
The fear that I lived with every single day was extreme. Anyone who saw me in court would remember how my voice shook as I begged Judge Algeo not to make me give my son to the man I feared would hurt him. While I didn’t have any solid evidence that something this extreme would happen, I did have loads of historical circumstantial evidence from Luc’s past and all of the people who died around him. While I hung onto to the hope that Luc loved his son, I knew that he was not capable of loving him the way a father should love their child. The most scary thought was that I knew Luc was dangerous, and that Prince would not be able to escape this man unharmed – nobody had escaped unharmed.
Many people all across the world are living in fear that something will happen to their child. The pain that is caused from this fear is not the same as what I am living through, having lost my son, but it can sometimes feel equally as terrible. While my son was alive and I was fighting for his life (and my own), I didn’t have a choice but to be strong. I couldn’t have imagined living through the death of my son because to have been able to imagine it would have been unnatural. So right now, I am doing the same thing I did before my son died – I am surviving the chaos because I have no other choice. I am strong because I am a mother – mothers don’t get to choose not to have strength for their children.
How I Keep Living:
Every day I receive letters from others who are struggling to protect their children in a system that has encouraged them to shut off their parental instincts. While this issue is close to home for me (because I lived it with Prince), people suffer through other types of terrible tragedies and painful situations every day and can certainly relate to the idea of “strength – when you have no other choice”. Its been nearly four months since I last woke up with my son sprawled across my chest. Sometimes I still wake up at 3am thinking that I have just heard his voice. I don’t pretend to have the play book on how to be strong in the face of evil, chaos, and the impossibly bad, but I have learned a few things that help me get out of bed each morning. Whatever it is that you are going through, I hope that you can find your own strength through my words.
1) Find your “happy” place: There are still times during the day when I get sad. Sometimes I look at my son’s picture on my office desk and have to walk away just to keep myself from crying. When moments of sadness hit me, I hang onto happy thoughts to get me through the sad moment. For example, I remember a time when Prince made me laugh or I think about all the amazing friends and family who have helped me through this situation. Lately, I have found a lot of happiness thinking about Luc trying to hide in the corner of his cell while Bubba is waiting to violate him. (I apologize for some for whom I have offended their sensibilities.)
2) Choose your battles: There are a lot of things you can get stressed out from on a daily basis. If I chose to be stressed about all of them, I would most certainly die immediately. If you are dealing with a lot of stress in life, give yourself a break and allow yourself to just walk away from things that are not work the stress. For example, Fairfax Hospital treated me and my family like trash the night my son died. While sometimes I feel like going there to scream, cry, or just tell them how terribly I was treated, I realize that unless they are willing to learn from this experience – it is most likely not work my energy. Instead, I choose to limit the drama when I can and focus on things that actually make me feel better.
3) You cannot fix stupid/crazy: When I was fighting Luc in court, I had to get to a point when I realized that there was no way I would ever be able to make him not stupid and not crazy. Now, even with Luc behind bars, there are still a few stupid/crazy people who would rather trash me than recognize the terrible tragedy that occurred. Initially, I spent a lot of time being upset about these people. I have learned, however, that this stress is not helpful and it certainly won’t bring Prince back.
4) Get passionate and don’t be afraid to be loud about it: There is no pill on this planet that will get me out of bed faster than simple passion. When this tragedy first occurred, I had several people who suggested medication. I am here to tell you that medicine will not make what is causing the pain to go away. What seems to help me, however, is finding something to channel my energy. It is my son’s legacy that gets me out of bed in the morning and it is the idea that I can help others that keeps me going. Whatever it is you are passionate about be it basket weaving or pursuing justice, chase that passion with fire and don’t be afraid to get loud about it.
Finally, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whether you are grieving the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of your belief in the justice system, or the loss of your child and the love of your life – allow yourself to grieve your own way. Take time for yourself and don’t worry about pleasing everyone in your quest to find your own strength.
Dear Cappy.. You wrote…
“Lately, I have found a lot of happiness thinking about Luc trying to hide in the corner of his cell while Bubba is waiting to violate him”.
Followed by an apology. You are so sweet to have done so, but I cannot imagine even the most sensitive among us being offended. The man (IF he can be called a man) needs to be broken. I realize he is already damaged, but the heart of this criminal scum needs to be shattered and left in ruin. I believe “Bubba” can do that and pray there is a “Bubba” who will take from him his all superior ego.. his I can do as I please and no one can ever stop me attitude. And so I will await the day you report back to us this slime has been crushed.
Yes you are strong, and I admire you for this as well as your wisdom. I am struggling with things in life and need help. Your message here today was much of what I needed. I hope you won’t mind if I copy and paste your message into my personal journal. I will of course also save with it you web address and name so that in the future I will know exactly where it came from, and I promise not to re post your words anywhere on line without your consent. With much Love.. Derisory from Iowa.
I am in the UK and I have sat infront of my laptop from about 10am this morning until now (gone midnight) reading every word of this blog. I have literally hardly moved. I have cried my eyes out and just sobbed about the sadness of this case and the unfairness of it all. Before I go to bed I want to thank you Hera for all your words and for sharing your feelings with us. Also thankyou so much for the Bubba comment – which was the only laugh I had all day. Although justice has not been served on Luc yet – we can only hope it will be fully served in prison by the fellow inmates.
Please win your case and then turn your story into a book
My thoughts and prayers are with you
Thank you so much for your support Debbie. It’s people like you that help me keep going each day. For that I thank you as I am sure my son does too. 🙂
I struggle with bitterness, but you know, being bitter is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy dies. He’s unharmed, but you increase your own suffering. Can’t remember who said that…. I read it recently somewhere. Despite those wise words, I can’t help but admit that I hope Luc meets Bubba and I hope my ex spath suffers the repercussions of his actions one day. So far he does nothing but benefit and prosper from all he’s done to hurt me, but I must not punish myself by hating him. There’s song that I hear often about forgiveness that says, “forgiveness….. the captive you set free is yourself.” So true, but how in the world do you forgive a monster for murdering your baby? I have far less to forgive, but still I struggle.
Christine, I don’t think that time spent on even thinking about forgiving Luc is time well spent. I know that there is no point in forgiving him because, frankly, I don’t even see him as human anymore. I think at this point, its more important for me to forgive myself. It might not make sense, but I am working on forgiving myself for the mistake of even meeting Luc, falling for his lies, and for not having left sooner than I did. I am also working on forgiving myself for not taking my little boy and running away when I had the chance. Luc – he is not worth my forgiveness nor my energy in even entertaining forgiveness. In addition to myself, I am also working on forgiving those who placed my son in the hands of this clearly disordered man. They all know who they are. It will be easier to forgive once they vow to change their behavior for the next child.
Actually, your last sentence contains much wisdom. I had forgotten this, but I did a study a while back on biblical forgiveness and I realized that the Lord forgives us AFTER we repent, not before. I don’t know why I continue to berate myself for not forgiving the monster in my life and how I so easily forget the truth I’ve sought out. He has never expressed one iota of sorrow over what he’s done, except in the therapist’s office which was for no reason other than to manipulate the therapist. No, I don’t think the Lord expects me to forgive him because he has not asked forgiveness nor has he repented of his wrong doing. And neither has Luc.
But, I do think bitterness is different than unforgiveness. We may not be required to forgive a non-repentant person for harming us, but we must be able to let go of the pain and grief and move forward – just like you said in your response to Marcia. If we don’t let go, then we let them continue to rob from us and torment us.
It’s funny but I’ve been beating myself up over the mistakes I’ve made which lead to the trauma my children (and I) have had to endure, and I almost stayed home from church today because I wanted to stay home and wallow in misery over the mistakes I’ve made. But I willed myself to go to church and I’m so glad I did because the message (we listened to preacher on DVD) was about forgiving yourself. He reminded me that the Lord forgives and forgets (if we repent and ask for forgiveness) and He does not continue to hold our pasts against us. We need to do the same thing; forgive ourselves. One scripture he spoke about was Phillipians 3:13-14. “…….but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward forth unto those things which are before. Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Some people say they have forgiven the killer of their child. I don’t know how… Especially when
that person is the childs bio parent. I cannot grasp this concept. I guess I am not a very good
Christian… and yet I cannot imagine that GOD has such great an expectation of us. I would never
be able to forgive the judge or anyone else involved. I suppose I would never be free.
Marica, I spoke to my priest about this recently. I asked him if it was bad to have anger. He said, “hold onto that anger because it will help get Justice faster.” He is a very wise man. I really think that its not about forgiving the person per say, its about letting it go. Luc doesn’t deserve the energy it would require to forgive. I do, however, think that in time I will be able to let the anger go and move forward. Right now, however, there is still work to be done and keeping some of that anger is helpful. It gives me a bit of passion, but it doesn’t consume me.
Marcia, I’m sure you are a faithful Christian. We Christians are so hard on ourselves sometimes. I don’t think the Lord expects us to forgive a person for anything unless that person repents and expresses some sorrow over what they’ve done. I forget this all the time, but I studied it out in scripture once and came to the conclusion that the Lord forgives us after we repent, and we can expect that He would not require any more of us.
Thank you for your response. Your words make sense.
I have often felt guilty for not being able to just forgive and
continue to love someone who has hurt me deeply. There
is one who does this repeatedly and with INTENT. Not a
situation where it was some little thing. This woman has
brought destruction to my family and caused my sons not to
speak to me for over a year. There is a pattern with her and
she has manipulated our entire family causing my son to cut
himself off from nearly every member of the family over the
past twenty years. Her thing seems to be to destroy my life in
any way she can. I’ve prayed and asked GOD to forgive her,
but somehow I still can’t quite let go of the bad feelings I have.
I fear allowing her into my life again.
The Priest does indeed sound like a wise man, and his advise seems very sound.
I understand what you mean about the energy, I am in a situation where there is
need for justice, but I simply do not have the energy to pursue Partly because of
my age, partly because of my health, and partly because while my brain knows
it is the right thing to do (push for justice) my heart isn’t in it because it is family.
I was the only one who was hurt. I suppose I should push so this person will not
continue to hurt others. As we know from your experience, once a person has
gotten away with a crime, they have no problem do it again … I am rethingking my
decesion. Thank You Cappy.. Sorry for picking my own nic for you, but I, being a
Capricorn and since I relate to you in many ways, Decided to shorten the
Cappuccino.. I am a very goofy old woman. I often become attached to people I
don’t know except on line and in my heart they become on of my children, grands,
or great grands.. You and Prince have been adopted in the heart of this od woman.
Marica, I am fine with the nickname Cappy. 😉 Age and wisdom allow you to make up any name you like. I also feel honored to have become your virtual adopted grand daughter.
Cappy… With tears in my eyes… You have warmmed this old heart.
I only wish I had as much to give you in return.