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The Last Normal Thing I Ever Did…

January 19, 2018 - Michelle Metje

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On July 26, 2013, at 10:00pm, I went to bed in Bob’s arms. All was right in the world. I was safe. Then, at 2:00am, my world was shattered…

I often hear of my cohorts being asked why they aren’t over the loss of their loved one yet. “When are you going to move on?”, “Why can’t you just accept what’s happened, and go on with your life?”, and “What is wrong with you? Are you just wanting attention??” are all questions I’ve heard repeatedly in dealing with the survivors of homicide.

What most people don’t understand is that our lives will never be normal again… at least by society’s standards. However, our reaction to the situation is ABSOLUTELY normal!

For a very simplified example, let’s imagine you are at Walmart, and the woman in line in front of you stopped what she did, dropped to the floor and began rolling around. You would think this behavior is bizarre! It’s not normal! And if the woman began pulling her clothes off, and the cashier at the register started spraying her with an extinguisher, you might believe you were part of a practical joke.

However, if the same woman was on fire, you would want her to stop, drop, and roll. Because that is how you survive the situation.  And of course, different people would react to this situation in different ways (i.e. get out a fire extinguisher, remove the burning clothing, etc.) and none of these reactions would be considered abnormal. Even this woman would walk away with scars, probably frightened of open flame, and purchase flame-retardant clothing from that day forward.

However simplified this situation may seem to you, it still applies to the survivors of homicide. We may not seem to be acting normal to you, because you’re not in the middle of the crisis. For a survivor of homicide, the crisis will never end.  We are scarred, but not in places you can see. Some of us may even get tattoos that show our scars, because the pain of losing someone in this manner is so deep (and unnoticed), we want a sign to show the world, “My child was here. He/she mattered.”

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my son’s “alleged” killer being caught.  I say alleged, because of legal jargon, but the truth is he confessed. Tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary of me finding out he was arrested.  For the first time in almost 5 years, I no longer feel like I will walk outside of my home to face the person that killed Corey. He’s been behind bars for a full year.

However, I’m still not “normal”. I never will be again. Nor do I want to be.

I have no desire to be in large crowds, meet strangers, or dance with abandon (and if you are a friend of mine, you know I did!).

I no longer live under the notion that I am indestructible. Someone found my Achilles’ heel… my children.

I am happy to stay home for days at a time with only the company of my husband and two remaining sons.  However, Justin and J are no longer here, they are at school… so Bob gets the privilege of being my companion day in and day out.

Not knowing where my boys are (especially J- who is living in New York now) worries me… beyond measure.

Since J started at NYU this last fall, there have been bombings and shootings near him.  My first reaction is to call him just to make sure he’s ok. Justin is much closer (UMKC), so if I don’t hear from him for a few days I can always have Bob drive me to see him.

There is NO convincing me that my children won’t be hurt.

But you must understand this is not an unfounded belief… because it’s already happened to one of my sons. It is not outside the realm of possibilities that another could be hurt.

I don’t drive anymore; don’t go out with my friends; don’t walk my neighborhood; don’t sleep until after 2:00 AM; and don’t want to try.

The last normal thing I ever did was go to bed believing I was safe and secure.

For the rest of my life, I will be living a new normal… one with my eyes wide open;

Knowing the truth about my existence here on Earth… that my loved ones and I are only mortals;

Knowing there are more days behind me than days ahead;

And that I will face each of those days without Corey.

Michelle Metje

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