Kimberly was 18 years young and she was my world. She was vivacious, loved equestrian competition, enjoyed tap and jazz dancing, defended the underdog and loved singing in the choir. She would also make people laugh wherever she was. She was a comic and she and I had so much fun being silly together.
Her last year of school was very confusing. She was depressed and we didn't know why. We tried to get her help. Her doctor prescribed Prozac, but she stopped taking it. She started superficially cutting herself and I was told they were "gestures." Kimberly asked to go into Shepard Pratt Hospital of Baltimore (Towson, MD) for a week of testing. I remember taking her there and it was so painful to walk away and leave her there. I remember checking her suitcase in. The staff did not smile and they rummaged through her suitcase removing shampoo and other items that could be a danger to other people, but they did not explain what they were doing. I felt violated for her. I should have just walked out with her then, but I didn't. I kept smiling at her to reassure her.
As I walked away with my ex-husband she ran to leave with us and a couple staff people stopped her. I turned around to see what was happening and there were about 4 or 5 people holding my baby back. She was screaming, “PLEASE MOMMY! PLEASE! I DON'T WANT TO STAY! PLEASE MOMMY! PLEASE! AHHHHHAHHHHH!” While trying to hold her back her blouse was being ripped off and she kept screaming! I broke into tears and remember trying to run toward her and my ex-husband pulled me through the exit doors. It was horrible. It was horrible. I wish I never left my baby there. I can't stop crying thinking of that first horrible night. Oh dear, the pain of these memories...
They put her into a padded cell and through a ritual of tests, questions, etc. She came home after a week and no diagnosis. She was to have continued counseling. I was a single mom working two jobs, one during the week and the part-time job some nights and weekends. How I hated having to leave my baby by herself at home so much. There were times I wanted to move to my mom's, but I thought it was more important for Kimberly to be with people she new. Well, some of them let her down, too.
That night... that horrible night... I had to work in the mall until closing and Kimberly was upset that night. Her boyfriend Darren had been cheating on her he kept lying to her. She would sit by the phone biting her nails and waiting for hours for him to call, but he wouldn't call. This happened numerous times and each time set her back worse than the last.
One day I called Darren and told him that he knew she wasn't well and that he needed to be honest with her. He told me that he would call her and that he would be honest with her ("I will, Miss Brenda, I'll call Kimberly and tell her). That night, election night, he was suppose to call at 8:00 p.m. Kimberly called me at work in hysterics because he didn't call her again. The agony was too much for her. I hated my job more because I couldn't leave. I got home about 10:15 p.m. to find a note on the counter from her "Dear mom, gone for a ride" was all it said.
I stayed in my dress and eventually fell asleep on the bed to be awakened by a knock at the door. I opened my eyes to see it was 2:00 a.m. I rose and walked to the door thinking Kimberly must be coming home, wondering where she was and thinking she must have lost her apartment key. I staggered out of bed hoping it was Kimberly who may have forgotten her key, but the sound was too hard...to deliberate. I peeked through the peephole to see three police officers and hollered out asking them if I could help them. I thought, surely they were at the wrong address.
They asked, "are you Kimberly's mother?" Oh dear...my breathing quickened and my mind started racing..."yes, I'm her mother, can I help you?" They asked if they could come in and, in silence, I robotically unlocked the bolt lock and motioned them toward the sofa. Quietly I sat across from them. My eyes were fixed on one officer who was unable to make eye contact with me. He was young and sat at the edge of the sofa resting his elbows upon his knees. His hat was dangling from his fingertips and he struggled with his words. I remained frozen, eyes fixed and thinking "dear God, please...Oh, dear God..." He broke the silence telling me softly "ma'am, your daughter is dead". “AAHHHH! Dear God! NO!”, I wailed! All the walls caved in, the room went black, and a noise erupted from my body that sounded like an animal! Was that me? I thought while it continued... wailing... I never heard wailing and now, I knew first hand, just what wailing was.
I went through the motions during the funeral receiving about 400 visitors. It was all a bad dream for me. Most mothers don't give the eulogy when they lose a child, but there was no way anyone could stop me. I sat up until 3:00 a.m., that one night, preparing my final gift to my baby; a gift from my forever torn heart. I knew that I would never be the same again. Not only did my baby suddenly sweep away her life, but also she took with her my motherhood, and part of my future along with as hers.
My days were dark and all the reason I had to live went back to the earth. It seemed I had no energy to get up in the morning. All the vibrant life I had within me was drawn out leaving behind a vacuum of darkness and hopelessness. I wanted to hold her so badly and feel her long hair tickle my nose when she hugged me. I missed the smell of her apple shampoo and mostly hearing words, "I love you, mom". Oh, how intense the pain. I never knew such pain of the heart could radiate throughout one's whole being splitting me up into a million pieces. I felt as if I were only a fragment left of what I once was. I was tired. Plain and simple...I just wanted to die.
Though it has been eight years since losing my baby, I still have emotional tidal waves of grieving. Still, one of the hardest things for me to do is grocery shop and go into malls ... Kimberly's favorite place of visit. I miss her so badly. As I feel tears welling up again, I also know they will subside.
I keep myself busy helping other people, volunteering on committees to help other people, going up into the beautiful Colorado mountains, serving others who struggle in different way and helping them stand up for their rights. I married a wonderful man 2.5 years ago and I wish he could have met Kimberly, but he is patient and understanding and supports me quite a bit when I hit bottom.
I've been in and out of this and SOLOS list servers throughout the years especially around this time of year to invite people to share and experience the traditional Memory Tree of Lights. This is a wonderful healing tool and I wish none of us had to be here, but we are and thank the Lord we have each other. It is so important to not only reach out to help others, but we have to learn to ask for help as well. It is so wonderful to help others and provide a comfort to someone who is hurting. I have not only received kindness from others, but I have given to others and I find myself growing more when I think outward instead of inward and I notice that I become stronger inside.
04/14/74 – 11/03/92