Remarks I delivered during the
YWCA Domestic Violence/Candlelight Vigil
Capital Building, Harrisburg PA
It’s been 557 days since I parked my car at the Broadstreet Market, picked up my cell phone, dialed 514-2440. 557 days since I listened to my call go into voicemail. 557 days since I left the message “I’m here”. It’s been 557 days since I got out of my car, locked the doors and walked into the Midtown Book Scholar answering my ringing mobile phone and 557 days since hearing Charles mother say “have you heard from Charles, China just called and said Supreme murdered him and Sandy, I can’t make head nor tails of what she’s talking about.
557 days since I got back into my car and drove to Fulton Street where I was greeted by Police tape, police cars, police officers, dead bodies and a hideous truth which accompanied an indescribable agony.
When I stood here last year, it had been 6 months after the murder my Charles, his sister Sandy & the suicide of their perpetrator, Sandy’s husband, my friend, Supreme and we, friends & family alike were experiencing a new pain, like exposed nerves in a heavy acid rain of emotions.
Since then I have revisited, researched and relived moments in our lives, in our inner circle, in my own relationship. My family fell completely to hell because I imploded with grief. I discovered it was my attempt, in part, to clarify, to find reasons and force our situation to make sense, which was holding us back.
Understand that human beings don’t do well with puzzles that cannot be solved. We seek answers, blindly and sometimes to our own detriment.
Grief is all encompassing, but bitterness, anger & blame, these things are tangible in our world.
Bitterness, Anger and blame are preferable to a painful purgatory seemingly without parole and if we aren’t careful, if we don’t seek counsel, seek a support group, talk about the joy in those we lost, laugh, remember, honor their names, unpack our memories and air them out, we risk inadvertently destroying everything and everyone in our path trying to unlatch blame from whatever our situation is and place it securely in the hands of something or someone thinking that will give us closure.
Closure seems to be the carrot at the end of the grieving stick the wagon of life is pulling in front of us. We chase it but it’s always going to be just out of reach.
I use to lie in my bed crushed by the weight of tears thinking “dear God, just get me past this pain so I can move on.”
A prayer for closure so I wouldn’t have to give in to an emotion that is unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Every day. In denying the inevitable I filled to the brim with so many conflicting emotions to the point that I had no choice but to give in and that’s when my healing began. There is a process to this sadness and trying to circumvent it does more harm than good.
We are taught it is stronger person who can “hold it all together” but I believe sometimes falling apart is necessary—the trick is when you pick up the pieces be sure to leave the fragments that hold you back on the ground where they fell, let life sweep up the debris so you can start clean, fresh and capable of moving forward.
We may not ever reach that carrot. What we can reach is another plateau, then another, then another.
It’s a little over a year and ½ into my journey. My family and I work daily to repair the massive damage due to the aftershocks of tragedy. I write through my pain, I have a Homicide Support Group which I know will strengthen me, and the sheer process of time healing all wounds is greatly in play.
Even as I learn to function one day at a time, I am able to be before you & hopefully give you something to carry home.
I am so very aware that I stand in front of survivors of similarly harvested hurts & unhappily welcoming new people into our morose senseless private club, and regardless of what my story is, was and will forever be – I know it is possible for you to seek solace in my words then speak to your own strife – each teardrop of angst in this space is as special & individual as a snowflake – and the aftermath of these violent avalanches are rolling & gaining momentum on the streets of Harrisburg.
We each have unique perspectives to share so our healing is priority because much work is needed to protect, educate and empower other people so our stories don’t become theirs.
I use to think that one day we’d get “back to normal” but I know now that is a virtual impossibility.
One of the most profound lessons I learned is that we may never be back to normal again, but we will adjust to new norms.
I pray you embrace that thought for tomorrow even if you can’t feel it tonight. May all of our loved one rest in peace and everlasting love and may we each make an impact in the area of Domestic Violence by breaking our silence & speaking out.
Iya Isoke © 10/25/11