My life, my death and the loss of my very own heart in a journal entry.
Today I stumbled upon my journal with entries dated back to August 2003. I sat and read each entry, page after page and the words jumped off the pages and put my heart and my soul into a venomous choke hold of fear. I could feel every emotion in each word. The few weeks leading up to Labor Day 2003 could be likened to the same shattering turmoil to that of a young hostage, whisked into a life of torture and abuse.
These entries were written just a few weeks before I learned that my husband did not love me anymore. Those words still rage in my head. There he sat – smug and distant. “I don’t love you anymore”…. out of the clear blue sky. There it was. The bomb. The 5,000 pound gorilla. The elephant in the room…..”I don’t love you anymore”…. the look of shock must have mirrored a grayed and worn out pasty version of my otherwise healthy glow.
This morning, I read through my journal entries armed fully with the knowledge of this dark crescendo building slowly and strategically in the background. I felt as if I were viewing a movie on a screen; in my mind I watched and yelled things to this young, loyal and beautiful girl…I reached through the pages and caressed her sweet soul while warning bells shot silently through the script; I pretended she could hear me screaming “no! that is not what is really going on!”, “he is lying to you!!!”, “that is not what is happening right now!”….I felt helpless as I read each event unfold. I moved through each page, completely engaged in the angst left puddled in the footsteps of a young girl bumbling along in her life over those few weeks leading up to spine twisting agony, defeat and sorrow. I could feel her naively accepting so many events as ordinary events in the life of a healthy marriage which, in her mind, was simply going through a phase or a rough patch. That is what happens – we hit rough patches. I could feel the frailty of her heart, it was this strong undercurrent wrapped in the tone of each written word. “It’s just a rough patch… stay the course. Work it out. That is what couples do. They work it out”. As if she was trying to convince herself more than anyone.
I sat in my office this morning, reading my journal entries of the events leading up to our weekend at the lake; tears welled up in my eyes as I placed the film back in my conscious mind, hit play and re-lived the scene so vividly as if I were right back on that deck sitting straight in front of my then-husband.
Every Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend was more fun than the last, or so it seemed.This year was slated to be a blowout adventure as our group had grown larger every time we planned the weekend at the lake house. I was so excited to see our mutual friends who were arriving in 24 short hours, including my best friend Ande who was my confidante, my pal and lifeline. She was our maid of honor. Shawn had always hated her and I never could understand why but I never let it stop me from maintaining my friendship with her – I am a loyal friend and also a bit hard headed. No one was ever able to tell me how to think or what to do. Regardless of Shawn’s feelings towards her, I was happy – she was heading to the lake for the first time and with her daughter that I loved as my very own. Never before would Shawn allow me to even invite her to the lake house. Needless to say, I was blissfully happy about the weekend ahead. It did not get much better than that for me – my husband, my son, my best friend and her daughter. The four people I loved and respected most at the time.
Our life was pretty fantastic. My Real Estate career was taking off at full throttle, my son was in a private catholic high school where he was loved and admired by students and teachers alike. My husband of 2 and a half years was finally home for more than a few weeks from his job which required international travel for long periods of time. I can still smell the chicken cooking on the grill as I relive these final moment’s in my life as I came to know it. As I was reading each entry, reality provided a dose of shock as it occurred to me that this is the home that came to bear the memory of a man who, in an instant, turned homicidal maniac along with the gut wrenching moment of being stripped of my title of loving, devoted mother and wife to the new title of inferior trash all due to a new life he was scheming.
There we were. The plan was to spend some time alone to reconnect, share and enjoy some private and tender moments on the water. We were enjoying the cool weather, some great food and a beverage to sooth away life’s stresses. Shawn was a funny man. Crass, harsh and foul mouthed? Yes. But funny at the same time. He was confident and aloof but an emotional weave of insecurity and needy wrapped into a proud Texan. He was an alcoholic and borderline addict. He was extreme in his behavior – super high happy or super low angry. There was no gray area for Shawn.
The image still haunts me, my husband and I – enjoying a day to ourselves before everyone else arrived. On the over-sized deck of a rental home overlooking the water. We had been drinking and laughing while playing a board game. There is nothing like a cool beverage on the deck to adjust your attitude. Besides, love, for me, was in the air. I was so happy that we decided to spend some time alone, together, in the woods, at the lake… as a couple who would rise out of this rough patch and roll right back into our bliss by the time we packed up the jet skis and headed back home.
As the moment presented itself, I approached my husband and sat on his lap….he turned, almost in disgust, and blurted it out loud: “I don’t love you anymore”. The words rang through my head like an echo chamber….. It sounded as if a hammer were relentlessly pounding everything contained inside my skull in an effort to remove the echos of the words that he just said to me. I could not take my gaze off of him – it was as if I were waiting for a punchline. I rose slowly… and took a step back, the world had stopped. I was moving. When the world began to move again, it was in slow motion. Words sounded like a deep moan. I was not sure whether to laugh or cry, run or hide or to simply crumble to my feet and cover my ears. This cannot be happening, I thought. This is not possible…we are planning to graduate my son this coming June and sell everything and move to TX to be near Shawn’s family. We had plans for a future. We had plans to move to the next phase of our lives. Mumbled words and sentences ran through my brain like a ticker tape. Just flowing and flowing without end. And when the ticker tape of sentences stopped…it was deafening silence.
I remember making my way down the stairs of the deck onto the grass and to the dock where our jet-skis bounced up and down as if waving me to come for a ride, it was a perfect place to go even in my state of complete and total devastation. I chose the faster jet ski – the one that, if I turned too quickly, would knock me a few hundred feet into whatever lay before my re-entry from the air. I was drunk. Drunk coupled with high speed jet skis at dusk did not register. It was almost as if I were hypnotized. I was not thinking clearly. I was not thinking. I was moving almost motionless into an emotional abyss. The world was dark all around me. I moved closer and closer to the water.
The next scene in the reel shows a beautiful young woman skating on the jet ski on water that looked like a sheet of smooth glass. No wake, no waves and no bumps. Pushing harder and harder on the accelerator. After an uncountable number of twists and turns of 360 degree pirouettes, the dizziness got to me and I finally stopped. Still. Motionless. In the middle of the lake. And I cried. Alone. Afraid and wondering what would become my life. This was not the game plan. For a moment, I could not breathe. I sobbed and sobbed with my head hunched over the handlebars begging for Shawn to come save me, apologize and take me into his arms with assurances that he feels horrible and wants to work it out. And as the sun started to set I could hear another jet ski at top speeds raging on the water. I looked up to see Shawn. Racing his jet ski, pointed sharply at me. If he kept on his current path, it would be a head on collision. My eyes were swollen and my vision blurred but even with my eyes welled up in tears, I could clearly see the glass-eyed, demonic look on his face that will forever and permanently remain etched in my sub-conscious mind. I could feel my lungs stop and my blood curdle as he glared at me in this monstrous and demonic way. Normally, his eyes were a beautiful green blue, but what I saw as I sat helpless on that jet-ski was not blue nor shades of green – his eyes were black. Deep embers of black charcoal with a core of fire red and orange flames. Anger. Hatred. Vengeance. Blood running through the veins in his neck bloating them to a size of near explosion. My life was flashing before me like a 35mm filmstrip running clips in my mind. My son. My mom. My brothers. My family. My friends. What would they do? Would they ever know what really happened today? How would he explain this to the police? That I was drunk and hit him? Would they ever find my body or would he watch me sink to the depths of the lake before calling 9-1-1? Would the story end for me in a way that would tragically impact my son’s life and future? As I watched Shawn come straight at me I knew it was over. At the very last second, he swerved and sent me off my jet ski into the wake. For a moment, I thought that I was going to drown. I opened my eyes to bubbles floating before me to the surface. Something instinctual set in and I surfaced. And when I did, all I could see was the tail of the jetski carrying Shawn back to the lake house.
And that is how I died.
Alone, in the middle of Lake Anna, floating by the grace of a life vest, thanking the very God that put me in this position in the first place, begging for mercy on my soul and wishing for a miracle. I knew at that moment what was surely to become my imminent fate. It was, with 100% certainty, to be filled with sadness, anger, sorrow, sheer despair and possibly death.
And death it was.
The sweet, vulnerable, outgoing, fun girl had lost all sense of innocence as this hatred that she had never seen before was projected from across the lake right into the depths of her soul. A tattoo permanently branded my heart as unworthy, shattered and broken.
Yes, I died that day and my own husband pulled the trigger.
30 Best Days.