On the morning of March 27, 2015 I received a phone call from my sister as I was walking my daughter to preschool.
She asked, "What happened to Michele?" Immediately my heart sank in fear of her talking about my best friend I've known since high school.
"My Michele?" I asked confused.
I hung up and then proceeded to check Michele's Facebook to see what she was talking about. Tears streamed down my face as I read several posts on her Facebook page relating to her death and how she will be missed. Before I could find out what happened, my sister called again.
Struggling to tell me, through tears, she repeated how sorry she was, and finally told me, "Michele has been murdered, she was stabbed by her husband". Intense anguish and pain that I can't explain filled my soul. I screamed! I cried!
"That son of a bitch! I hope he rots in hell! I told her to leave him!" I yelled.
I hung up and tried to call my mom, but she was at work and couldn't answer. She finally called after my sister sent her an email telling her to call me immediately. She asked if I needed her, stubbornly, I said no, but she left work and came over anyways. I was planning on still going to work myself as well, regardless of what was going on, and the fact I looked like I had been crying for days, but finally decided a half hour before my shift to call in.
I reminisced about the good times and how we met. Michele and I met at a young woman's activity for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and we were instant best friends! I'll never forget how she would always tell me that she prayed for a best friend, and how I was the answer to her prayers. She always said she knew we were best friends before we came to earth, and we'll always be best friends.
One day, when we were seniors in high school, I called her,crying, that my mom bought a house in Utah and how bad it sucked that we were moving.
Her reply was "Cool! I wanna come!" I though she was nuts! But that's exactly what she did. Soon we became 2 Cali girls in Utah off to start a new adventure.
I loved when we lived near each other a few years ago before she moved to Arizona. I loved staying up late with her, sitting on her couch, and just enjoying each other's company. She was always there for me when I needed her, and I for her.
(Michele with my daughter and her youngest son. One of the last times I would ever see her, but not talk to her.)
Neither of us were in healthy relationships. I know all too well the struggles of being in an abusive relationship. I have been in a few myself. Most start off looking somewhat healthy and turn ugly quickly. I've had friends warn me when I've been in abusive relationships, and tell me that I needed help; I refused to listen. I myself have been stalked, bullied, harassed, belittled, threatened, intimidated, called inappropriate names, and many other things.
In the book “The Gift of Fear,” Gavin DeBecker lists what he calls pre-incident indicators associated with spousal violence and murder. I have suffered through the majority of the red flags he lists, that I have mentioned. I have friends who have suffered other things such as, having their financial funds being withdrawn from them, being beaten, having bones broken from punches or physical violence, and one of my friends ex's even attempted to drowned her.
I finally reached out and got help. I started going to a domestic violence and sexual assault support group. It was there that I started to learn what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like, and how to set and keep healthy boundaries. I also read a book, I mentioned above, by Gavin DeBecker called "The Gift of Fear" that changed my life.
In this book the author teaches you about your intuition, how to use it, and some of the subtle red flags you choose to ignore. I stick to his book like a bible. It has been a struggle learning how to be in a healthy relationship again. I mostly avoid them in fear of things changing. My rule of thumb, whichI've learned from “The Gift of Fear,” has been to trust yourintuition first, ask questions later.
I was hanging out with a guy this spring, that my roommate and I said 'had the creepy vibe'. We're still unsure of why he gave us that vibe, but I decided it was best to trust my intuition regardless if I ever found out why. My Dad’s advice was to find someone I admired and have them help me in my dating endeavors. If any of my trusted sources get 'the creepy vibe' now, I trust it, and then ask questions later.
(Women around the world wore purple on April 2, in honor of Michele, and Domestic Violence victims everywhere)
After ending some abusive relationships, I have had friends and family members tell me I was vindictive, unforgiving, unChristlike, incapable of having a healthy relationship, and other unkind things. At one point, I could feel their hostility towards me when I attended family gatherings. I remember coming home on Christmas Eve, crying to my neighbor, and best friend, Thelma, not because of what was said, but because I could feel their hostility.
Some of my exes have had smooth words and had an agenda to use people to win me back.
You see, the thing is, some men can be very charming, but behind closed doors, they are different people. Look at Ted Bundy!
That's how many abusers are. That's how Michele's husband was. He was never anything but nice to me, and I was always nice to him, of course. But I knew the real John, all too well. I had many conversations with Michele about our relationships. I told her to leave him on several occasions, I offered my home to her as did others. She had planned on leaving him when she finished school this year. Too often we tend to think things will get better, or that the perfect time will come to leave. We also tend to think that the people we love aren't capable of hurting us. But that's not true is it?
I remember calling my Dad to tell him the heartbreaking news about Michele. There are few times I have ever heard him cry, but this is one of them.
One of the first things he said to me was "This could have been you."
I ask myself constantly, "Why Michele?" And "How did I always get out, how come she couldn't?". It's hard for me to comprehend the truth in my Dad’s words. How could someone who loves you be capable of something so harsh? My innocent mind can't wrap my mind around the thought of another human being hurting another so much.
I have spent so many sleepless nights crying and mourning my best friend’s death. It can't be undone, and that sucks. Everyone's got their "person" she was mine! We've shared a special bond between us that both of us believe we've had, and will have, for eternity. I miss the small simple things about her. All I can do is wait until I see her in heaven. I will never be able to express the pain, anguish, heartache, anger, and other emotions I feel. I spend many nights crying, and days fighting back tears at work. I've cried my eyes out in my car on my way home from work. He took a best friend from me! There's a hole in my heart, and it hurts. He took a mother from her children! Although I think it's best he's behind bars, my heart aches for her children without a father and mother. I promised Michele at her grave, I would do the best I could to look after her kids, and that's what I'll do.
My prayer is that I can touch lives, and hopefully save some. You never think these kinds of things will happen to you. But they can happen to anyone!!!
I encourage everyone to read “The Gift of Fear.”
I have also included a link to the news story about Michele’s death for those of you who never knew her.