Goodbyes

With so much to do before we leave for Halifax, I’ve barely had a moment to process all of the events that have taken place over the past two weeks. Yesterday I sat down to write about my experience in court on Tuesday, but as the writing took over, I began to realize that my words were better suited for an opinion piece. On a whim I submitted it to the Washington Post and I’m happy to say you can read it here.

I have had many days over the past 8 months that I would describe as “broken” days. These are the days in which I rush around with a to-do list of no less than 75 items and I complete them all as I field phone calls, e-mails, and texts, pack up my house to move, write a paper for grad school, and fight a cold. Unless you’ve been witness to a broken day, they’re pretty hard to describe. The magnitude of all these competing demands is more overwhelming than I have words for. I am left feeling broken, as if I have been beaten myself. My physical body can no longer sustain the abuse. My shoulders and neck strain with the knots of stress that have accumulated. My legs act wobbly. My speech is exhausted, slurred and incoherent. I am a living zombie.

So, when people ask me how I’ve emotionally processed something as significant as testifying in criminal court, I can only answer, “I haven’t thought about it yet.” And when 30 seconds after learning the verdict in my husband’s trial, a reporter calls to request an interview, I can only say, “Sorry. I have to pick up my son from school.” Because that’s the truth. The trial may be over, but my workload will never cease. I am living out our life sentence.

Today was an especially broken day. With 36 hours until we depart, I still have half our belongings to deal with, one last paper to write, and lots of little errands that are seemingly endless. In a moment I went from broken to broke down. And as I broke down, I cried. 

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I wept with gratitude as I hugged Jack’s amazing teacher goodbye. I fought back tears hours later when she handed us this: a “Jack in a Box” to remember him by while we are away. It’s decorated with photos of Jack, some of his funniest quotes, and inside are his handprints with a lovely message to us. I wept because I realized that when these 36 hours of craziness end, I will have to leave my baby for the longest time we’ve ever been away from him.

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It’s going to be gut wrenching for all of us. This child has been through so many transitions this year. Recently, I’ve watched nervously as he’s grown attached to his home here and his new school. He’s finally trusted that TC has returned to us for good. He’s still clingy with me, but less so than he was a few months ago. I cherish the evening bath, the 15 minutes of dinosaur books, and the last cup of milk before bed. I am thrilled to support TC in his program, but I’m torn up about leaving Jack. It feels so gravely unfair to put him through one more major transition and uprooting. At what point will it be too much for him?

My emotions about leaving Jack made Melanie’s gift even more special to me. I was touched that she realized how difficult this next month would be for me and TC. I couldn’t believe she found time to create such a gift with her own busy schedule, . Life can be very sharp sometimes. Just as you’re feeling abandoned and defeated, a few special people swoop in to remind you that no one will let you fall completely.

When we arrived home from 3 hours of nonstop errands, we were greeted by even more generosity. One of my oldest friends had come to repair the screen doors damaged by Spencer during our time in the rental cottage. This was no small gift to my mental health. I have been stressing for nearly 6 months about keeping this place in pristine condition for the landlord. It is truly the loveliest little cottage in the world. I wanted to leave it as perfect as we received it, which is extremely difficult to do with a toddler, a dog, and a husband with awkward motor skills. 

As I felt the stress lift off my shoulders, I opened a card from another friend who had stopped by while we were out. He had left us some fresh rockfish fillets (my favorite), some celebratory cigars for TC, and a card that left me speechless. In the card I discovered that our friends Mark and Sarah had taken the initiative to find out the name and location of TC’s therapy program in Canada, research a local gym in the area, and cover the cost of a membership for us while we are there. Mark and Sarah have already done more for us in the past 8 months than we could hope to deserve. This final parting gift shocked me out of my misery and thrust me back into the real world: a place that is populated by some of the most incredibly kind, generous, and sincere people with whom you could hope to be friends.

The days have been long. The challenges have been daunting. But what lies ahead promises to rejuvenate and transform us for the better. I hope this time away will allow me to heal my broken body, rest my weary mind, and begin the long process of reflecting on all that has brought us here.


12 thoughts on “Goodbyes

  1. Ah the ‘broken days’…..Thank you for yet another beautiful piece…Through your pain one can find hope, and strength to go on. Your writing is so empowering. All the best for the next month to come. Tina

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    1. Abby
      The courtroom experience is going to live with you for a while and that scene will play over and over in your head as a turning point in this whole ordeal. I was a rape victim and testified against my attacker in criminal court when I was pregnant with my oldest child. I will never forget it, but it was a time of new coping. Best of luck in Canada and to T.C.

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  2. Abby, I have followed what happened to TC since the very beginning and have been rooting for all three of you to come out on the other side. Sending good vibes your way and wishing for a full recovery for TC.
    Keep writing and stay strong!
    Kelly

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  3. I found you through your opinion piece in the Post. Thank you for sharing your story, for your honesty, for your clear and unflinching narrative of what it’s like to have your life shattered by violence. Your writing is moving and beautiful. Count me as a regular reader and supporter.

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  4. Abby, TC and Jack,
    Halifax will be empowering, the time will fly, and soon the three of you will be united again, stronger and happier than ever.
    Linda

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  5. I was so happy to have crossed paths with you Tuesday night. As I read your journey I realize how strong we are, how resilient we and are children are, how strong our husbands are and how strong the people who have surrounded your family and mine during this time are. I wish you much happiness as your embark on this new chapter and hope to see you when you get back. Much love!!

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  6. Wonderfully touched today by Washington Post article and your blog. Bravo! Where is your book!? In time I guess.
    Stronger! You and your husband are fighters to say the least. Praying for your marriage and family’s continued success. God Bless!

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  7. Abby — What you wrote in the Post this morning so moved us again. Our hearts have and will continue to go out to you. You have a beautiful family. Your son will see your strength and your husband’s strength and he will be strong too. When my Mom died on a Tuesday afternoon in a house fire and my sister died of cancer right after that I wondered how my then relatively young kids who were quite close to both of them would learn to deal with those seemingly grossly unfair and premature losses. A wiser friend of mine said that it’s not the horrible things that happen to you but how you react and learn to live with what has happened that your kids take away from all of it. I will pray for good days ahead for you and your family. I will also pray for parents to teach their children from the very beginning that violence is not a solution to anything. Thank you for writing about your experiences and all the best to your family always.

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  8. Hi, I read your linked opinion column in the Post. Sorry about the trolls, and the ignoramuses. Some people like to insert themselves into others’ tragedies, mainly to establish it could never happen to them. This kind of unwelcomed intimacy rings especially false because it only conveys their distance and difference from you guys with no real sympathy. I mean if this is what they think to make themselves feel better they can always keep it to themselves.

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  9. I just finish reading the Post submission and pray the possible negative possibilities fail to emerge. Your strength and openness is refreshing and society has to move away from the hatefulness someone felt compelled to inflict upon your family. The safety and opportunity you write about is a global theme. Stay strong

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