50 Shades of Sanctioned Domestic Violence – A Society in Trouble

Every time I tell my story, I risk extreme judgement from people who try to wrap their minds around the ridiculousness.  While I have received an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family, and even complete strangers, there is still too often the person who needs to “explain” what about ME put me in this position and how I can avoid being a victim in the future.  While this judgement from (sometimes completely well-meaning people) continues to hurt on some level, there will still always be a part of me that wonders if there is SOMETHING in my personality that made me such an easy target.  Moreover, why is it that I stayed even as long as I stayed when there were certain things about Luc that never added up?

Today I went to lunch with some co-workers and the topic of conversation became centered around the book “50 Shades of Grey”.  While I admit I have never read the book (nor want to now), this conversation struck a cord with me that I don’t believe it would have before I was a victim of a psychopath.  One of the “supporters” of the book mentioned that the main character is a successful businessman who enjoys a deviant sexual lifestyle.  He went on to describe (without flinching) that the main character talks a college senior (he stressed that she was a virgin) into signing a contract that dictated what she would eat, that she would allow him to hurt her, etc.

As my coworkers were discussing the various aspects of this “relationship contract”, I felt as if I was going to throw up.  I couldn’t believe that this sanctioned form of domestic violence was being glorified in pop culture and revered as anything other than an example of a relationship with a psychopath.   What was even more disturbing was that the few at the table who actually found this a bit disturbing (myself included), seemed to be judged as “prudish” and not open minded.

What I find interesting about this book and its popularity is the fact that society is becoming desensitized and almost idealizing these characters to the point where when women (and sometimes men too) see people like this, they don’t immediately recognize the danger.  This book is not the only example we have of this in pop culture these days.  Many movies also show the story of these “aloof and emotionally shallow” men (James Bond for example) and the woman who hang on their arms as sex symbols.  Many people look at the James Bond character and hold him on a high pedestal of manliness and “cool”, but if you really unpack the character – he is a womanizing jerk who appears to be overly concerned about his appearance.

During the lunch with my co-workers, I realized just how much this experience has changed me.  I no longer look at relationships the same and I don’t ever believe its right to make excuses for abusive behavior.  I also wonder to myself if society’s glorification of overpowering and abusive men predisposed me and desensitized me to what was really going on with Luc much earlier than I even realized.  When Luc was demanding that I rub his feet when I was 8 months pregnant, commenting on what I ate on a regular basis, and constantly tearing apart my self-esteem – would people think it was ok for him if he had announced that this was “just what he liked” or somehow talked me into signing a contract of abuse?  Someone who says, “Honey, I really enjoy raping people – don’t be upset…it’s just my fetish” – is this ok too as long as the guy admits it?  After being labeled as a “prude” for being uncomfortable with these things that have become so pervasive in our society, I remember wondering if I was being unreasonable when I should have been running for my life.

(Note:  ”Sexual deviance” is a very common trait amongst psychopaths and Luc was no stranger to this term.)

Just three years ago (before I met Luc), I was young and naive.  I was that woman who felt safe believing that women who ended up in abusive relationships must have something wrong with them.  Realizing that any woman – even if she is smart AND beautiful – can wake up one day and find herself in an abusive relationship is a terrifying realization.  The thought that I could have been so fooled to fall for someone who was capable of the things Luc turned out to be capable of, would have rendered naive Cappuccino Queen completely paralyzed.  It is for that reason, that I try not to judge those who judge me – no matter how much it might still hurt.

Hijacking the Discourse

When Prince was a couple of months old, I took him to the beach for the first time.  My dramatic exit from Luc’s house had just happened a little over a month earlier and I was still in a bit of shock.  I went from being engaged to a man I “thought” I loved (I say “thought” because the real man wasn’t anything like the man I believed I was in love with) and celebrating the birth of my baby boy, to being slapped in the face with a harsh reality that I believe deep down I had been fearing.  I wanted to badly for this man to be the father I had hoped for my son, but the reality was that he was not even a man worthy enough for a first date – let alone someone that I should have ever chosen to have a child with.

Before I had children, I always imagined how my son or daughter would look up to their father as I had looked up to mine.  I dreamed of the type of man who took his children out for special events, read to them at night, and did everything he could – ever single day – to make sure they had the best life possible.

During our drive to the beach, we stopped at a gas station.  I watched a father get out of his car with his son.  The father looked at his son with joy and the son proudly followed his father while he watched every step the man took…in order to make sure his own steps matched.  As I sat there nursing my son and looking into his bright brown eyes, I started crying.  I cried because I knew that Prince would never have that kind of father.  The man I had imagined (and had wanted to believe I was with) didn’t exist in Prince’s father.

Some people might read this blog and think that I am a man hating anti-father’s rights sort of woman; however, that could be further from the truth.  I know many men who would jump in front of a train if it meant saving their child and who deserve the support of “father’s rights” groups court during custody trials.  I have also received letters from men who are battling psychopath mothers in court.  I accept that disordered people come in both genders.

I wanted my son to have a good father – I wanted him to be safe and happy – and I wanted him to have the opportunity to grow up and be a man someday.  The court, however, only cared about whether or not my son had access to both biological parents and not about the actual welfare of the child.  The court wasn’t concerned about my child growing up, it was just concerned with getting the parents out of court.

When the Washington Post Editorial came out this morning, I read some disturbing comments.  People seemed so ready to blame me for my bad choices (i.e. falling for Luc’s lies).  I was blamed for “not using protection” as if this made it so that Prince deserved this fate because his mother didn’t force her boyfriend to wear a condom.  (As if this reader even knew the circumstances surrounding my son’s conception or it was any of his business)

The fact of the matter is that whether or not one believes I am a whore (which my friends and family can attest that I am not), should have no relevance in this story.  Children should never be judged and held accountable for the decisions of their parents.  An innocent child died and this could have been avoided.  It isn’t about sex, it isn’t father’s rights, and it isn’t about a woman’s vengeful attitude – it’s about a child.  It is about a group of people who have taken an oath to protect and serve (i.e. judges and police) and how these people failed to protect an innocent child.

So to all the haters out there who want to write me off because you don’t believe my story, or you want to protect your part in this, or you are just plain hateful – don’t try and hijack this discourse.  Prince’s story is important and I will not let people diminish its impact because of their ignorant attempts to cloud the issues.

I am – Prince’s Mama

Since the beginning of this nightmare, I have heard a lot about bravery and strength.  I have thought a lot about what these two words really mean to me.  A lot of people have been wondering how it is that I am able to keep talking about this and why I haven’t just walked away from this and attempted to move on with my life.  Here is the best answer I can give for that:

I was chosen to be Prince’s Mama.

I didn’t choose to have Prince die so young.  I didn’t choose for my story – our story- to be so terrifying and tragic.  This story – this cause – chose me.  I have received hundreds of emails and Facebook messages from women (and some men) who have been fighting this broken system.  It’s true that my story is terrible and tragic, but it is not the only one and I am not alone.

I could choose to walk away and try to forget all of the painful memories, but to walk away from this story and this cause would also be choosing to walk away from my baby boy.  That is not a choice any good mother would make.  This cause is bigger than me and Prince and, unfortunately, we are now faces in a sea of other people whom the justice system has failed.

When I first heard that my son was dead, I wanted to die with him.  I vividly remember contemplating jumping into the grave and laying next to his tiny casket.  That seemed like the easier option than staying here on earth and continuing to fight.  After laying in bed for at least a week, crying myself to sleep at night, and nearly dying from an inability to eat, I remembered a promise that I made to Prince as I sat beside his open casket and read to him for the last time.  I promised him that I would always fight for him.

God chose the two of us for a reason.  I will always stand up and fight for justice with my words and the way in which I choose to live my life.  I will carry his memory like the proud Mama I am.  I will think about him every day and imagine how he would be growing if he would have been allowed to live.

As a parent, I had a responsibility to protect my son because he could not protect himself.  Now, after his death, I have a responsibility to protect his memory and protect his civil right to justice.  Our country is in trouble.  Our children are in trouble.  Justice is in trouble.

I am not brave, I was chosen.  I am strong, but that is only because my son made me that way.

I hope you all will continue to stand with me as I stand for my son – as I stand for the children who have come before him – and the children who will come after him

15.5 Months – A Mother’s Attempt To Protect Her Son

On July 17, 2011, two weeks after my son was born, I took my newborn baby boy and the clothing on our backs and we fled Luc’s house.  I left terrified of what would happen to us if we stayed.  After learning about all of the horrifying things that happened around Luc (that he has been suspected of causing, but still not convicted for), I believed that the justice system would protect me and my son Prince.  I was sure that all I needed to do was find a lawyer and hang onto my boy for dear life.  My hope was that the court would see the man Luc really was and not the man Luc so easily pretended to be.

That first night me and Prince spent in my parents house, I remember how scared I was.  I looked at Prince as he slept on my chest and said to him, “I love you my Prince….I just wonder how long I will get to keep you.”  This may seem like a strange thought to those who have never been in this situation, but even then I knew that Luc wouldn’t let us get away easy.  I was terrified of losing my baby boy from the moment I left that house.  With Luc, you are either with him or against him.  When I left, and stopped paying his bills, I had “betrayed” him and he was surely going to come after me.

A week after I left Luc, Luc’s attorney wrote me a threatening letter asking me to return a car Luc had been using (that I owned).  His attorney claimed that not having a car was causing Luc “mental anguish”.  He said nothing about Prince.  A few days after that, I filed for full custody of Prince.  Luc didn’t respond to the custody papers for three months.  His response came on my birthday.  He later posted “happy birthday” on his Facebook.  This was not the act of a loving father – this was the act of an angry man who was dead set on getting “revenge”.

We spent a year in court fighting over Prince.  As many of you have read in my blog, Family Court is a terrible place to be.  Every time I entered the courtroom, I felt like I was being stripped naked and beaten with a baseball bat.  It was demeaning and degrading.  The Judge acted as if he wasn’t human and had never made a mistake in his entire life.   Let’s face it – HE didn’t have to rely on OUR judgements.  My tax dollars (I say MY because Luc doesn’t pay taxes) were spent so that he could be in the position to make judgements on whether and how my son would be allowed to live.

I came to each court hearing and begged Judge Algeo and “the court” to see Luc for what he really was.  I begged the court to not force Prince to go back to a man I had so desperately tried to run away from.  No matter how much I begged and pleaded, however, we always came back to the same thing – Luc is Prince’s father and he has the RIGHT to access his child.  The fact that Luc’s sperm had helped create Prince made the court feel as if it was an “acceptable risk” to send Prince back into the house with the man I had run away from – the man I whom had been hell bent on terrorizing and destroying my family.

15.5 months – This is how long I was able to keep my son alive.  This is how long it took for Luc to get the court to trust him enough to bring Prince back to his house.  This is how long Prince was allowed to live before the courts decided it was time to take an “acceptable risk.”  This is how long it took before my son was found lying on the ground cold, wet, bloody, and without a pulse while Luc and his housemates stood around him and stared.

I feel guilt every day.  I feel guilt for not violating the court order and refusing to send Prince that day.  I feel guilt for having ever believed Luc’s lies.  I feel guilt for not running away and hiding in a foreign country when I learned who/what Luc was.  I take full responsibility for having gotten wrapped up with such a disaster and disordered con man.  For the decisions I made and the signs I didn’t catch, I have paid dearly.

I wish, however, the courts hadn’t forced my son to pay for the reality of his sperm donor.

The Men and Women Standing with me

I have spent a lot of time talking about all of the people who didn’t fight for Prince.  I would like to take the time to tell you a story about some people who DID stand with me in an attempt to save my little boy.  These people should be named and I believe that Prince is watching over all of them.

Alexis Washington

Alexis Washington dated Luc before me.  She met Luc when she was very young and he psychologically (and physically) tortured her for years.  Finally, in early 2009, Alexis had the courage to leave him.  After she left, Luc became angry and in an attempt to force her return he sent naked videos of her to her friends and family and then created a porn site in her name.  Alexis also attempted to hold Luc accountable in court both criminally and civilly.  Luc was able to walk away from this charge a free man after the state waited too long and until it was too late to obtain the evidence they needed to convict him.

Days before my first court hearing (for the Custody War) with Luc, my attorneys were preparing me for the worst.  They said, we need witnesses and we need live ones…or else its just your word against Luc’s.  The mother of Luc’s older son was dead, Luc’s own mother was dead (found in Luc’s home lying on a plastic bag – which was ruled a suicide) but there was one other woman who had lived with Luc (other than me) in the past ten years who WAS still alive – Alexis.  I asked the attorneys if it would help if Alexis testified.  They laughed and said, “well yea, but how are you going to get her here?  You don’t even know her and the trial is in two days!”

I drove home from the attorneys office in tears.  I felt completely desperate and scared of what would happen to my son.  I took a chance and called Alexis.  (I had gotten her number from a Private Investigator I had hired after I fled Luc’s house)  It was the first time she had ever heard my voice.  I knew it was a long shot when I asked her if she would come and fight with me.  She said yes.

I asked Alexis why she chose to help me.  She could have walked away.  Prince wasn’t her child and she no longer had any reason to deal with this monster.  In what was possibly the best answer she could have given, she said, “I am helping you because Luc needs to be stopped and because I wish someone had helped me when I needed help.”

Luc has attempted to smear Alexis’ name all over the internet.  I write this with strong admiration – Alexis is one strong woman.  She has been through hell and when Prince needed her…when I needed her…she stood up to help two complete strangers.  Thank you Alexis.  I wish we could have saved my Prince.

My Mother – Prince’s “Dama” (Mary-Alice McLeod)

My son didn’t just have one mother – he had two.  When I wasn’t there – Dama was. (Dama was what Prince called her) From the beginning of this nightmare, my mother has been standing right beside me in this crusade for justice.  She never believed Luc’s lies and she has been fighting to protect her family ever since this monster walked into our lives.   When I had to go back to work, my mother stayed with Prince so that I could devote my entire salary to paying legal fees.

Months before Prince died, my mother would go out to Prince William County, VA and beg the police and the District Attorney to help us.  She was told to stop bothering them.  She was told that they couldn’t get involved in a child custody case.   There is enough blame to go around for many people – but my mother, Prince’s “Dama”, can honestly say she fought as hard as she could and did everything she could in order to protect her grandson.

I did not stand alone and do not stand alone – my mother stands with me.

My Sister – Prince’s favorite singer – Lara McLeod

My sister has gone through hell this past year.  After reporting that Luc raped her, the Prince William County police arrested her for false report.  Luc then tried to smear her name all over the internet the best he could.  My sister endured possibly the worst outcome a victim can expect.  The police decided not to charge Luc, because they believed that both me and Lara deserved what happened to us.  (See my post about Prince William Police Officer Bradford Cavender)

Prince adored Lara.  He used to listen to her sing on YouTube (Gravity – by Soundbytes – the blue version) over and over again.  While Lara was initially terrified to tell her story after what the police did to her, she came to court on July 12th.  She was ready to face Luc and tell Judge Algeo what happened to her at the hands of this monster.  My attorneys, however, chose to not put her on the stand.

My sister was 19 when the incident with Luc occurred.  Luc was almost 40.  I won’t go into detail about what happened to her, however, Luc should not have walked away a free man.  With reference to what happened to my sister, Luc’s story changed as many times as he told it and got more ridiculous evey time.  If his version were true, it wouldn’t have changed so many times and so drastically.

Shawn Katrina Mason and her mother Sheryl

Shawn Mason died before I could ever meet her.  She died on March 20, 2003 in Manassas, VA.   Luc happens to be the prime person of interest in Shawn’s murder.  (As was testified to in open court during the Custody Trial by an officer with the Manassas City Police)  I list Shawn as one of the women who stands with me, because her story and her memory was a prominent theme in my Custody War with Luc.  Had Shawn still been living, I am sure she too would have fought for her son as she tried to do before she was killed – and as I tried to fight for mine.  I also believe she stands with all of us in spirit.

I have thought a lot about God in the past month, and why he sent my son only to be taken away so soon.  I sometimes wonder if Shawn sent Prince to protect HER only son whom still lives with Luc to this day.  Prince is my guardian angel.  Of that, I am sure.  I wonder, however, for whom else he was sent to guard.

Shawn’s mother Sheryl also came to court to protect Prince.  She also did not know either of us and took a great risk by coming.  She came to represent her daughter who could not speak for herself.  Thank you Sheryl for your courage.

 

These women are not the only ones who stood, and continue to stand with me.  My aunts and uncles, brother and sister-in-law, cousins, friends, and even co-workers have all come through with tremendous support and love for both me and Prince.

Me and my father (Gustavus McLeod) have had our ups and downs, but he has shown tremendous strength over these past few years.  Not a lot of men could have had the strength NOT to go after Luc after all he has done to us.  My father, however, knew that we needed him at home and showed his true strength in his ability to continue to financially and emotionally support the family in the face of a disasterous situation.  My son was not really just Mama and “Dama”‘s boy, he was Grandpa’s boy.

My son used to smile from ear to ear when my father placed his hat on Prince’s head.  When Prince was lying in his casket, his hair cut where the Medical Examiner had taken a specimen for study, my dad placed Grandpa’s hat on him for the last time.  He was buried with Grandpa’s hat.

I have the strength I have today because of the people who stand with me.  Thank you all.  May Prince continue to be a guardian angel to you too.

 

Scared and Scorned – but not Stupid

Someone asked me yesterday whether or not I worried about what people would think of me once my story goes public.  She asked if I was worried that people would write me off as a scorned woman who was hell bent on blaming Lucifer or that people would think there was something wrong with me because I had fallen for Luc’s con/mind games.  These are great questions to which I am absolutely reading and willing to answer.  The “scorned woman” and the “stupid woman” are two labels that I have become intimately familiar with in the past few years as a result of Luc’s reign of terror.

Stupid Woman:

If someone had told me my story three years ago, this likely would have been close to what I would be thinking:  ’Damn, that’s the most horrifying story I have ever heard.  That being said, I have to wonder about this girl.  If Luc is this disordered, how come she didn’t see him coming?  I am glad that I am a smart woman who doesn’t trust easily.  I feel bad for her, but thank GOD I don’t have to worry about anything like this happening to me.’

Judge Algeo actually addressed me in court after he likely had a similar thought.  He said, “Now Ms. McLeod – you are not without fault because you actually chose him.”  At that moment, he was possibly thinking that I deserved what Luc had done to me and what would likely happen to Prince because I had been a “stupid woman”. I understand how people would wonder if I was “stupid” or “blind” because I would have felt the same way had it not actually happened to me.

This is a completely normal reaction and has actually been explained in the world of Psychology (or for the purpose of a definition – wikipedia). This idea is called the  ”Just -World Hypothesis” or “Just – World Fallacy”.  The Just-World Fallacy is a cognitive bias that human actions eventually yield morally fair and fitting consequences, so that, ultimately, noble actions are duly rewarded and evil actions are duly punished.

This “Fallacy” contributes to why many people often jump to blame the victim.  For example, a woman is raped at a college frat party and people ask what she did to make the man believe she wanted to have sex with him.  A man is mugged while walking down the street and people blame him for carrying so much cash and walking alone on the street at night.  Blaming the victim makes us feel safe and as if we couldn’t end up in that person’s shoes because we are smarter and more street savvy.

At the risk of sounding cocky, I can assure you that I am not a stupid, uneducated, or gullible woman.  I am a confident, intelligent, and educated woman.  I was before I met Luc and I am now.  The biggest difference is that now I understand that not all people are good people, that even a smart woman can be fooled, and that good/successful/smart women are often great targets for psychopath men.  Period.

 

Scorned Woman:

This label is interesting.  While I hated that my attorneys, the Judge, and just about everyone in family court was quick to write me off as just a “scorned woman”, I have come to accept this term.  To a degree, I am scorned and I believe that any NORMAL person would be if they had to go through what I have in the past three years.  If I were not a scorned woman, I would not be human.  The danger here, however, is when the court fails to treat victims as human and has expectations not based in reality.

For example, two days before Prince’s first birthday we were back in Family Court.  Luc hadn’t made any requests to see Prince on his birthday until we were sitting in front of the judge.  In true Luc fashion, he sat on the stand and cried about how he had dreamed he would be able to spend half of the day with his friends and family (which I knew he didn’t actually have) and take Prince to Chuck – E- Cheese.  Judge Algeo fell for this hook line and sinker.  He was determined to make this Chuck E Cheese outing happen.

During the trial, we agreed to allow Luc to have an extra hour of supervised visitation that week to take Prince to Chuck-e-Cheese. After the trial was over, Luc didn’t mention Chuck-E-Cheese again.  He had his visit that week at the mall per usual and didn’t mention to the supervisor any plans to take Prince out for his birthday or change the location.  Then, on our next court date, Prudence Upton (Luc’s attorney) asked me if Luc had been able to take Prince to Chuck-E-Cheese as promised.  I responded by saying, “He never asked.”

Prudence then spun the whole situaiton to make it appear as if I had refused to let him take Prince out for his birthday. It appeared to me that Judge Algeo had expected me to call Chuck-E-Cheese, make reservations, pay for a birthday party, and call Luc with the details of the party he was to enjoy that I had planned on his behalf.  Despite all of the terrible things Luc had done to me and my entire family, I was continuously expected to “turn the other cheek” and welcome him with open arms into my family because he was, in fact, my son’s sperm donor.  Luc, on the other hand, was expected to just stay out of jail.

The Courts couldn’t understand why I didn’t invite this man to Prince’s baptism and why I hadn’t rolled out the red carpet for Luc’s supervised visits so that it was easier for him to be a father.  I provided Luc with a diaper bag and he complained about the contents not being to his specifications.  While this was initially appalling to me and the supervisor, it does not shock me now that I understand the message the courts were sending to him. So I stand here before my readers.

I promise to give you honesty and keep things real.  The reality of the situation is that I AM scorned.  I am rationally and appropriately scorned given the circumstances.  I honestly believe that any loving parent (man or woman), when given the card I was dealt, would have reacted the same way.  They too, however, would likely be written off as both stupid and scorned. I am scorned, but I am not stupid.

I was a scorned woman in court, but perhaps what the court should have focused on was that I was also a very scared woman.  My fears were not irrational.  My fears were based in reality and based on very real experiences and facts. This fear overpowered the reality of any scorn.

The “Cover Up” Rumor Mill in MOCO

It has come to my attention that the Montgomery County, MD courts are buzzing with rumors about the circumstances surrounding my son’s death.  I have heard from two separate sources that these “rumors” could have been started (and perpetuated) some attorneys in the neighborhood who might be worried about their reputations.  While I can understand why this particular woman might have a personal motivation to convince the courts (and her counterparts)  to believe that my son died of natural causes, she would have no evidence which would lead her to these assumptions other than what she might have heard from Luc himself. (And you can imagine the extreme lack of credibility in that source.)  No need to call her out by name…she knows who I am talking about.

If Prince was murdered during this unsupervised visit, this rumor spreader would have to admit that her unrelenting support of Luc could have played an instrumental role in what happened to my son.  I suspect that as the truth emerges and we learn what really happened to my son in Luc’s house, several of the professionals who backed him will begin to scatter and make excuses for their own behavior.

The most unfortunate thing about my son’s death is that it could have been avoided.  Several people in this process (this “injustice system”) aided Luc in his efforts and, I believe, should be held responsible for my son’s death.  From the moment I fled Luc’s house, I knew he was extremely disordered.  The more I learned about this man, the more I realized that he is incapable of normal human compassion and is extremely dangerous.
One of the people who told me about the rumors being spread around the courts said to me, “you should feel bad for this attorney because she was just another woman Luc conned.”  Initially, this may have been the case.  I can imagine Luc walking into his attorney’s office, with a tear stained face, crying about how much he missed his baby.  After listening to Luc’s deposition, however, she was given a horrifying education.  She had enough information to know that the only money Luc had, he had gotten as a result of all the people who had died around him.
When the truth comes out about what happened to my son, which I believe it eventually will, all of the people who supported this man (after knowing exactly what he is capable of) should be held responsible.  With the testimony against Luc that came out during the Custody War, it would not take a huge leap to understand that Luc is disordered.   It should be no shock that something else terrible has happened around Luc.  He will eventually be held accountable for the terrible things he has done; however, what will happen to those who stood beside him and championed  for his “father’s rights”?  Will they be forced to come to terms with their role in this?  Or will they all run and hide and pretend as if they were merely following their “civic duty”?  Do these attorneys not have a duty to protect the children whom are the subject of these court proceedings?
Those spreading these falsehoods don’t need to take my advice.  In fact, you likely will not.  I implore you, however, to stop speaking about the circumstances surrounding my son’s death.  You do not have enough information to make conclusions in this matter or speak authoritatively at all.  I understand your desire to protect your reputation, but it is too late – no matter what the outcome…you will have to accept your role in this case.  The more “cover up” attempted, the worse you will look when people learn the truth.  I am not going to let you hide.  That was my promise to Prince.

Being Thankful In The Midst Of Darkness

My son has been gone for exactly one month this week.  Most American families will spend this week celebrating all of the things for which they are thankful.   They will eat until they pass out and will spend time with the ones they love.  I will spend the holiday trying to pretend it isn’t a holiday.  This year, I wish the holiday season would just pass.
Normally, I love the holidays.  Last year, I remember being excited about spending the holiday season with the love of my life – my baby boy Prince.  At this time last year, I was actively trying to stop myself from buying too many things for Prince.  Everyone told me he wouldn’t remember his first Christmas anyway.  At this moment, I have the painful reminder that Prince’s first Christmas was also his ONLY Christmas as he did not survive to enjoy his second.
I am getting a bit tired of people warning me about how terrible the holidays will feel without my son.  While most of these people likely mean well, every single one of them has never actually had to spend a holiday thinking about their dead child.  So while I know people feel as if they have to say something, I am tired of people deciding that the “something” is going to be grief advice or “warnings” of terrible feelings to come associated with the holidays.
So this year I just want this season to pass me by.  If I could sleep through both Thanksgiving and Christmas so that I could stop people from forcing company on me or asking me if I am ok – that is what I would choose.  My friends and family seem so consumed with worry about a stupid holiday when I am just trying to get through each day.
I had to leave town because I am afraid.  I have nightmares about how Prince died.  I have panic attacks that get triggered by someone merely knocking on my door.
Each day, I wonder if I am going to ever wake up from this nightmare in which I am living.  Nearly three years ago, the devil walked into my life and turned it upside down.  I wait – I pray – and I hope…that one day I will wake up.
This year, however, I am thankful for a few things.  I am thankful that God chose me to be Prince’s Mama – that I got to spend 15 months with my guardian angel and the love of my life – for all the hugs and kisses I gave him and all the ones he gave me in return – that Prince was able to touch so many other people in his 15 months – and that I have enough faith to know that I will see him again someday.
 Mama loves you baby boy.  I wish I had gotten to keep you here with me.  I would have given anything to have you even for just one more Christmas.

My Prince – A Ray of Light and Hope

Prince was a ray of light and hope that  shined through the dark cloud that has been hanging over my life since I met Luc.  He was also very special to my entire family.  This became very clear in how my six year old nephew has dealt with Prince’s death.  My nephew, like Prince, has always been well beyond his years – like an older man trapped in a child’s body.  During the wake, my nephew insisted on seeing Prince in the casket.  While initially we all believed this would be a bad idea, he insisted and continued to ask to see him until he was allowed.

When my nephew approached the casket, he silently looked at Prince and placed a picture he had drawn him in the casket.  After a few moments, he walked away.  For the next few days, every time he saw me he would just hug me and then run away.  My brother and his family left to go back home the day Prince was buried.  I hadn’t heard much about how my nephew was handling it until this morning.
My mother told me that while she was visiting him, she found my nephew sitting in the corner looking at a birthday card.  My mom asked him if he was going to attend the birthday party.  My nephew’s face dropped as he showed my mother the date of the party – it was October 21 – the day Prince died.  After an awkward silence, he asked her, “Is Prince going to be ok?  Is he ok where he is?”
I heard this story as I sat in a hotel lobby (in the state I had to flee to until Luc is arrested and I can safely return home).  My heart broke all over again.  It’s hurts to think about how even my little nephews are suffering the loss of Prince.  The most painful thought, however, is knowing that Prince’s body and his life are NOT ok.  It kills me whenever I think about how I can’t even make it ok.  There is nothing I can do to protect him or make him feel better.  I will never hug him again, or kiss him, or nurse him to sleep.  I will never be able to whisper in his ear and tell him, “it’s ok baby – Mama is here – Mama loves you.”
I know Prince is in heaven and Luc can never hurt him again, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier.  I know Prince was an angel and God must have a plan for us, but that doesn’t stop me from being angry at myself for not being able to protect him.  I am his Mama…that was my job – to protect him always.
Sometimes I feel like I am living in a nightmare and that one day I am going to wake up.  Prince will be tapping me on my face as he used to do when he was trying to get me out of bed.  I know, however, that this will never happen.  I am not asleep and my baby is actually gone forever.
This is a horrible story for everyone reading this, but to me – this is my life.

Spicy Cucumber Margarita

I met up with a good friend of mine last night.  It was another moment when I had forgotten that not everyone knows Prince passed away.  As I began talking to him as if he knew, I slowly watched shock and horror come over his face.  It’s times like these when I am able to visably see how much this experience has changed me.  It had been a long time since I had seen this friend – since before “chaos” (otherwise known as Luc) entered my life.

One of the first questions he asked me after he found out was, “how are you up and walking around?  You are such a strong woman!”  I told him there are two paths (or options) I can see a person taking after they have lost a child:

1)  Lay in bed and die along with the child. (Note:  I did think for a moment that jumping in the grave with Prince would be a good option).

2)  Living for the child as you are all they have left in life.

I have chosen the second path.  I love him too much to have chosen the first. He needs me to fight for him and for me to live for him now.

So now what?  Choosing to live is the first step.  Figuring out what to do with your life seems to be the harder part.  Especially given the fact that I feel as if I need to “relearn” how to live.  It’s like waking up one day and having to teach yourself how to walk again.  The only problem is that you are an adult and people expect you to already know how to walk.

Last night at dinner, I had one of the most amazing alcoholic beverages I have had in my life.  (Note:  I am not an alcoholic and certainly don’t plan on becoming one even after this tragedy)  It was a Spicy Cucumber Margarita.  As I stared at this drink, I thought about how funny and ironic it was that I felt like I was staring at what could be a metaphor for how I feel right now.  It was a margarita full of all sorts of cucumbers that didn’t appear to fit together.  Then, there was an awkward and out of place looking pepper thrown on top.

Even though I always used to like to see myself as tough – I wasn’t.  I was sweet and scared.  I was the girl who trusted those who didn’t deserve my trust and who called the police after running the other direction.  I was afraid to speak up when it mattered and I was always worried about hurting other people’s feelings.

Now, however, I am like a Spicy Cucumber Margarita.  I am different.  I am unapologetic.  I don’t care if I don’t look traditional.  You either understand and appreciate me – or just don’t.  I am sweet with a little sour.  The thing people will probably notice right now is the pepper.  The awkward and out of place looking pepper thrown on top.