Thursday, August 27, 2015

The View From the Caboose...

I have mentioned in several posts as well as in personal conversation how I relate the events of this past year to being hit by a hundred-car freight train.  We have passed the First Year anniversary and here is a look back at the freight train that plowed through my life in 2014. 

The Engine – My sister and best friend was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and there were at least 25 cars attached to that alone as I watched my sister and my best friend my whole life go through the most devastating all-consuming "vacuum" that sucked what used to be her life into a dark and spiraling black hole.  Fatal disease, 21-day hospital stay, having to move out of her home and completely away from her pets, her church and her grandchildren and in with a 24 hour a day caregiver, 100-days in the bone marrow transplant unit every single day for 6 to 12 hours a day while she is poked and prodded and little pieces of her literally sliced away, four types of high-dose chemotherapy; hair loss; mouth sores; nausea; diarrhea; high dose total body irradiation, multiple painful bone marrow biopsies, bone marrow transplant, my niece being the donor and having to go through all that entailed, graft vs. host disease of the skin, lungs and eyes,  dangerous/life-threatening treatments including high doses of steroids, at least eighteen other scary medications, UVA light treatments, three different dangerous viruses, complications of diabetes and liver disease.  I am committed to be her caregiver for at least the next six months and six weeks into her treatment and a mind-numbing schedule…the rest of the cars begin to hit.

·        There is a death in my immediate family – Huge.  But not just a death but the death of my child. And not just the death of my child which would have been horrific alone but my youngest son, my 29-year old daughter in law and my 2 ½ year-old grandbaby – the child I have cared for and helped raise since his birth --are all gone. 
·        It is a tragic, horrific death – all three found shot in their home and not found for more than thirty-six hours.
·        I now have a grueling schedule trying to care for my sister – without a brain and a body that doesn't work.  I am so devastated I cannot function.  I cannot grieve or cry or curl up in the bottom of the closet like I want to.  Yet I am incapable of doing the job I have committed to and my sister's life depends on it. Guilt. Fear. Devastation.
·        The captive audience and brunt of my raging anger is my very sick sister that I love desperately and fear losing.  Guilt.
·        We were never allowed to see any of them and because of the condition of the bodies they could not have a traditional funeral and burial.
·       They say it was a murder/suicide committed by my son!  Impossible.  They don’t know him.  This cannot be true.  But they will not listen or investigate for any other possibilities.  They have made up their minds and they are done.
·        Because of the situation and the belief that Brian did this –
o   There is instant breakdown between the families - understandably.
o   They will be separated forever.  Kara and the baby in one state and Brian in another.
o   We do not even get to attend the memorial service for the daughter in law I loved nor the baby I adored. 
o   “We” actually feel guilt, remorse and shame even though we did nothing and do not even believe for one minute that Brian did this.
·        There is strong evidence that suggests it was a staged suicide and a possible hit on their lives:
o   Weeks later we hear from Kara's mom that Kara told friends and family over a year ago about an incident that happened where an acquaintance of Brian’s young adult son came to their door high on something and looking for trouble when Brian refused to let his son go out and called the police to the boy he left screaming threats: “This is not over. I will come back and kill you and your whole ^&^%*$ family!” 
o   Fear was the reason Kara asked for a gun.
o   The only ground-floor window was unlocked and partially open, hidden from the street view behind tall, thick shrubbery while all of the doors in the house were locked and dead-bolted.
o   Only two spent bullet casings were ever found. 
o   The missing bullet casing was from the shot that killed Brian - the last one alive; so how exactly does that happen? And why was this not a red-flag?
o   Though Brian is an avid writer – no suicide note is ever found.
o   Nothing was wrong in his life; we talked to both he and Kara just hours before and everything was fine.  They had plans to take the baby to a birthday party the next day and he called me asking what time we would be home so he could come over and bring the baby for a visit afterward.
o   According to the investigators, they had “all” put on pajamas and gone to bed. And no one found this even a tiny bit odd?
o   There was no reference to any domestic issues on their phones, I-Pad or computer – just sweet bantering back and forth between Brian and Kara the same afternoon this happened.  Why were these items not taken as evidence for the investigation?
·       We begged the county sheriff’s department for ten months to give us all of the information about the investigation that led them to this determination.  We were told the GBI would be heading up the investigation and there would be a ballistics test, a toxicology screen, an autopsy and a report of the findings would be sent to them upon completion.  Somewhere around four weeks later in a call to the GBI we find out that none of that is true. Four weeks after the bodies have all been cremated and after Serve-Pro has cleaned and decontaminated the house – destroying any evidence.  I demanded a meeting with all of the investigators --twice and all we got was “cover your ass” answers and even blatant lies.
·       They did not take finger-prints or physical evidence from around the open window, ballistics tests or test for blood evidence that proved Brian was the shooter.
·        They offered no explanation for why the other shell casing was never found.  Small room, wood floors and Serve Pro completely emptied it and went through every inch of it and no bullet casing was ever found. The Sergeant actually said and I quote. “Giving you closure is not our responsibility.  All we need is cause and manner of death and we have that.”
·        WSB TV showed up on the scene, then stole from Kara's Facebook account, my copyrighted photographs of the family taken in my yard the fall before and blasted this horror all over National Television – before we could even notify family.
·        Brian’s children had to be told by phone for fear they would see it on the news.
·        One of the best dads that I ever knew was now left with the most horrible legacy imaginable.
·        The entire free world now saw him as a monster.
·        That legacy spilled over onto what was left of my family as friends and even some relatives turned away from all of us in hatred and disgust and said horrible things about Brian on Facebook hurting his children as if this horrific tragedy was not bad enough.
·        I am devastated and in disbelief that people actually do not think that I should love or mourn the loss of my son.
·        We have to hold a private Memorial service and hire security to keep the news crews out.
·        We live in a small town.  Everywhere we go strangers ask us about it, stare at us and even point.  I no longer feel comfortable in the town that I have made my home for 23 years.
·        A formal company-wide announcement was made on my job.  That was comfortable.  I have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
·        Guilty by association - “We” are treated as if we are guilty by the Coroner’s office, the Sheriff’s Department, the GBI.  We are given no information, no consideration, no respect and certainly no sympathy.  There is the family of the victims of this God-awful tragedy…and then there is us.
·        I actually feel guilt with regards to Kara’s family because they believe my son caused their loss.
·        We quickly realize there is no justice for Brian – no matter how we fight.  No one is going to do anything to try and prove his innocence because their minds are made up.  A judgment call made on a gruesome crime scene in about fifteen minutes will leave a tragic legacy for him and the rest of us completely destroyed.  They have been his accuser, witness, judge and jury with a very biased point of view.  Sentence is passed – guilty.  He is guilty.  We are guilty by association.  They half do their jobs, piss away evidence, release the scene and allow any evidence of a crime to be destroyed. They lie to us about what has been done that proves this. Without knowing him, without giving him the benefit of the doubt, because of the horror of the scene they let their opinions of him get in way of them doing their jobs.
·        The house is contaminated with hazardous bacteria and all of their personal belongings have to be thrown out.  There are no clothes, no shoes - absolutely nothing “personal” left to us.  All of the baby’s clothes and shoes, his beloved blanket, his binkies and the handmade heirloom memories – made and given by both grandmothers - gone.  The house looks as if he never even existed.  There is no evidence anywhere of the beautiful little boy that graced our lives for 2 ½ years.  As if he had just been erased.
·        There is no will so his two older children are left not knowing who the next of kin is. They have no idea how to file an estate and since no one actually now owns it, no one can legally sell the house. 
·        There is no insurance.  The children cannot pay for his service or cremation.
·         My heart breaks for his other two children.  They are lost in a sea of grief and confusion.
·         My heart breaks for my daughter who has to oversee the decontamination and clean-up of her beloved family’s home.  Meeting with Serve-Pro discussing gut-wrenching details of things no one should ever have to see or hear.
·         We have the sad job of having to find homes for their two dogs.
·         My daughter and I are left with a huge physical and financial mess trying to intervene and sort out everything, deal with the personal property, the bills, calling the creditors, the house, the stray belongings left unclaimed in the house.
·         We have to start foreclosure proceedings on the house in order to be able to do anything with it and get out from under the bills that keep piling up and the yard maintenance. 
·         In the wake of the worst tragedy one can imagine we hire a lawyer for help and he decides like everyone else that we are in a vulnerable position and he decides to capitalize on our tragic circumstances so he bills us 2 ½ times the price he originally told me it would cost to handle the standard foreclosure - and it was, regardless of the circumstances, just a standard foreclosure to him.
·        Since there was no will the home that he and Kara worked so hard on has to be sold on the courthouse steps for a fraction of what it is worth; leaving very little to his children and it was split four ways with Kara's parents.
·        All of the things the children or Kara’s sister did not take is still sitting in my building.  Six truckloads.  I now have the gut-wrenching job of going through it and then trying to “dispose” of what is left of my children’s lives.
·        From the fallout of this – I have lost the friend that I have shared the most intimate parts of my life with for the past 37 years.
·        I have lost many friends and relatives through this.
·        It has changed my perspective on EVERYTHING until I don’t even recognize who I am anymore.
·        It has aged me by ten years at least.
·        I have had a huge faith crisis through this and consequently have little security still as to who God really is in light of this horrific tragedy.  I have a difficult time knowing what to pray for and why.  I have a difficult time believing all I read and hear about God’s protection.  Though I am better, I am still left feeling very vulnerable and empty at times.
·        It has threatened my other son’s marriage.
·        It has left me with a huge insecurity as far as how I feel about law enforcement.
·        It has left me feeling as if I do not belong in my home town and I am living in limbo not knowing where to go now.  This was my home.
·        There are actually family members that now avoid us and refuse to come to our home because it, and we, remind them of this loss and horrific tragedy.
·        I have had my feelings hurt over the people that I thought were friends that have completely deserted me through all of this. 
·        I myself am avoiding people that I care about that used to be in my life because I do not know how to tell them this.
·        And it is our belief that there is a killer walking free.

      So this is why I say it is like being hit by a train.  The hurts, the tragedies, the devastation, the insults, the guilt, the changes, the horrors like the separate cars of a freight train just kept on plowing over us one right behind the next for the whole entire year.

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