To say that 15 years later that the death of my friend Kay Lynn Jackson (April 5, 1998) left an indelible mark on my life would be an extreme understatement. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see the lasting impression that the tragedy of her murder left on my heart and mind. Here is what I have learned about grief…there literally is no time-table for healing and don’t let anyone guilt you or pressure you into “being ok” with an event that negatively changed your life forever. I would say that yes indeed time is your friend and that the severity and rawness that comes from the feelings you experience in the midst of tragedy do fade into a bearable faint reminder.
15 years is a long time but the tears were fresh in my eyes a few Sunday’s back when my Minister brought Kay’s name up in the course of his sermon…my family was sitting a row behind me and I knew if I turned and looked at their faces when her name came up that the tears would be uncontrollable. So I physically willed myself not to look behind me and I sat up straighter and steeled my emotions. I think part of why this was such a life altering moment in time for me was because of the lack of closure, her murder has yet to be solved and in many ways because of that it has been a lesson in forgiving the unforgivable and finding a way to lean on God’s justice and trust that it will prevail.
Many times I have heard my mother say forgiveness is not for the person you are forgiving it is for you…how can you move forward in life if you choose to hold onto the past? I have found this ideology to be true and frankly quite poignant because in my short life not only have I needed to be forgiven a million times over but I have found myself needing to forgive and the least of the people I have had to forgive is myself. Something changes when you see the absolute worst part of humanity, you go to a dark and cynical place and begin to dwell there…bitterness and hopeless begin to blacken your heart and the lies of the enemy become your constant companion robbing you of sanity and the ability to use forward thinking. (What I mean by forward thinking is having the courage, strength and fortitude to move through rough times and tragedy.) This state of mind is a very emotionally draining and potentially detrimental place to reside for any length of time…trust me I know.
After Kay’s death this is where I resided I begged God to let me switch places with her I thought out plans of how I could end my life bringing the least amount of pain to my family as possible yes a naïve thought but nonetheless I was in immense pain and wanted an escape. I remember very little of the week after her death and I remember very little of the months to follow…but looking back I can see the poignancy of the footprints poem specifically the part about their only being one set of footprints…
“The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.” Mary Stevenson
Truth be told I am sure this is the reason I survived that time in my life. I had nothing to hold onto and the world that I knew had been shattered into a million little pieces and I didn’t have the proper tools to recover. Everyone around me had great intentions and they were also hurting because this tragedy touched many lives either directly or indirectly, the whole community of Boise was mourning. I also didn’t share with my loved ones (even though they could probably read it in my actions) the depths of pain I was in and I didn’t do one key thing…I didn’t ask for the kind of help I needed.
With time the monsters in my mind became a dull roar and some sense of normalcy came back but I have never ever been the same. My innocence was robbed from me and not only that but the dark place that I described above continued to reside in a deep part of my heart and some of the bitterness and blackness lingered. Not to say that it has ruled my life because I have always had this idea that there is something better out there for me and I have been hopeful to a degree about things but I think that Kay’s death was a trigger for the deep pain that was inside me that I always hid behind my smile.
Though I have so many negative correlations to this time in my life one lessons that I learned has served me well and it is this…pour into people…pour love, understanding, forgiveness into the people who touch your life because you never know if you will have a tomorrow with them. I loved Kay and I wish that I had let her know how much she and her friendship meant to me and the good that I have been able to gleaned from the situation is just what I mentioned…cherish the ones you love hold them close and build into their lives…and, that we can use the tragedies in our lives to better the world one person at a time. I pray that with all the lessons I have learned through her death and all other paths that lead me to the place I am today can aid me in doing just that, pouring love, understanding, and forgiveness into people’s lives to positively affect them and help them through the trials and tribulations that life brings. Lord thanks for getting me to the 15 years later point. ❤