Wednesday, May 31, 2017

BOTTLEROCK NAPA 2017

I spent last weekend in Napa at BottleRock with my best friend, Laura. My daughter, Briana gave us the tickets to the music festival because she couldn’t attend. We had a fabulous weekend!

We loved all the bands we saw and listened to. The food there was scrumptious. I would have to say my favorite part of the weekend, besides hanging out with Laura, was the people we met.

When we arrived Friday evening, we went to the Jam Cellar Stage to hear Macklemore. He was AMAZING! We were jumping and dancing around along with everyone else. The vibe was contagious.

We had some time before Maroon 5 would come on stage. We decided to grab some food and sit down to eat. The festival eating area was filled with picnic tables and umbrellas and of course, numerous food vendors to choose from.

We ordered our grub and found a spot to eat. You have to share your table with strangers; it’s a great way to make new friends, and we did!

A young man and two young women asked if they could sit with us. It was easy to notice they were a little tipsy. The young man’s name was Cody. He was cute and liked to talk.

 Cody wanted to know if we had ever watched the movie, Back to the Future. When we replied, yes, we had watched the movie. He wanted to know what our favorite part of the movie was. I just laughed. He, his new wife, and their friend were so adorable and fun.

He started to tell us about his job as an attorney. He is also an investigator. He showed us a picture with him and Kirk Douglas so I showed him a picture of me with Oprah. He wasn’t impressed. LOL! He knew Oprah since he was small.

He noticed the picture of Matt on the t-shirt I was wearing in the picture with Oprah. I told him he was my son. He was murdered in 2008. Cody remembered the case. He began to weep. My heart broke open even more. I think it was because Cody was so kind and loving with his words to me.

We sat with Cody, his wife, and their friend for about 45 minutes, talking, laughing and even crying. He promised me that if I sent him a message and reminded him that we met at BottleRock on Friday evening he would remember us, even though he was a little drunk, he would remember. LOL! I am going to send him an email today.

On Saturday, Laura and I hung out in the Sutter Wellness Center for a couple of hours. The place had several booths inside offering makeovers, B12 injections, oxygen, face painting, massages. You name it; they had it.

The best part about this wellness center was the air conditioning and the comfy couches. We found our spot! Our legs were so tired from walking and standing for hours that this place was exactly what we needed. 

It seemed that EVERYONE had our same idea. The place was packed.
 It took a while but we were able to grab two spots on different couches. Laura was seated next to two younger men.

I was on the next couch with this older guy that asked if my iced coffee had alcohol in it. Uh…NO, it doesn’t! Thank you very much. That encounter was hella awkward because he was touching my back while he asked me about my drink. Eww! I moved to the very edge of the couch right before his girlfriend/wife came over to get him. Thank you, GOD.

Anyway, back to Laura and her new friends. She started talking with the young man next to her. Before I knew it they were laughing and he was showing her pictures of his nephew who was just born the day before. It was so beautiful to watch the conversation between these two strangers. Then we all left to the stage for Tom Petty.

I took a picture of them and posted it on Facebook. Later that night at home, Laura’s nephew Daniel had written a comment under the picture I had posted. He informed his Aunt Laura that she was sitting with his two friends. Wow, what a small world.

Day # 3 We arrived at BottleRock around noon on Sunday. I really wanted to see and hear Judah and the Lion. They would be playing at 2:00 PM. We decided to grab food and eat before the show. 

Again, we found a picnic bench occupied by a couple of people our age. We sat and talked with them.
They were a longtime married couple, there with their grown daughter to see the Foo Fighters later that night. He was retired military. We talked about the different military bases.  I shared that I was born at Travis Air Force Base. His wife was born on the base in Alameda. We laughed about the weed that was being smoked around us the entire weekend. It was another beautiful conversation had by strangers who quickly became friends.






My life is full of love. I thank God every day for giving me the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the words to speak. Thank you God, for guiding my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Amen

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Connections



I decided to write about the what transpired last Friday night while going through pictures.

Our youngest daughter is turning 24 in a couple of weeks.  I decided to create a picture collage of her growing up as a gift to her.
As I began to look through the photo boxes, the memories started flooding my mind, many great memories, along with some not so great ones.

A picture of the kids in Yosemite took me back to the year 1999. It had been an extremely difficult year for us. Our Cousin Kathy was brutally murdered in April of that year. I was not handling her death well at all. I was sad and angry. I was distant from those closest to me; my family.

We decided for our 8 year anniversary that June, we would take the kids with us to Yosemite for a couple of days. We agreed that each one of our kids could invite a cousin. I thought they could entertain each other. We had 6 kids with us for our 8th  wedding anniversary! What the hell were we thinking?

 I think I had been so freaked out by Kathy’s murder that I wanted my kids close to me.  The kids seemed to have a good time, for the most part. I, on the other hand, was aloof and depressed. I spent a lot of our time in Yosemite, alone. I didn’t want to continue yelling at the kids so I thought it best to allow Raymond to take them fishing and hiking while I stayed inside the rented house and read.

About a month later, after our Yosemite trip, we were all at home watching tv. A news alert came on the screen. They were reporting that a woman who had been missing in Yosemite was found dead. Her decapitated body had been found in a nearby stream. It was Joie Armstrong. The news showed a picture of who Joie Armstrong was.  

Matt Suddenly started screaming saying; she was his science camp counselor from last year at Marin Headlands. Matt was devastated.This was another horrific murder that had touched our family that year. 

Not only had the murderer killed and decapitated Joie Armstrong. This crazed lunatic, Cary Stayner, was also responsible for 3 other horrific killings earlier that year in Yosemite; A mother Carol Sund her daughter Juli, and a teenaged family friend, Silvina Pelosso. 

The only thing my mind could do was keep asking itself, what the hell is happening. I will never forget how shocked and sad Matt was.

 We learned later that Cary Stayner was sentenced to death. Still, today he sits on death row at San Quentin.

The prosecutor in the Cary Stayner case, George Williamson, would be another connection to us.  We would come to know George Williamson in the year 2010. He would be the prosecutor in the trials for two men responsible for our Matt’s murder.

Matt was shot in the head while visiting a friend in a quiet neighborhood in Cordelia. It has been called a case of mistaken identity.


 My mind is still blown by all these connections.  Do these connections seem strange to others? Am I over thinking all of this? God, clear my mind and heal my heart. Guide my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Amen


Sunday, May 14, 2017

I just want to know...WHY-GOD?



 My mom has been gone for over 5 years now.  I had already planned to go and place new flowers at her resting place. I promised my sister that I would send her pictures of the flowers because she had to work today and couldn’t make it.

 I know going there to the cemetery means that I will also visit my son at his resting place.  I hate the fact that for the last 8 years, 8 months, and 12 days I haven’t seen my son alive. I haven’t heard him laugh. I haven’t yelled at him for the hair gel he has left on my good towels in the bathroom and also on the door handles in nearly every room of the house.  I hate the fact that I go to a cemetery on Mother’s Day to place flowers in vases on a wall where my son is encased.

GOD, I HATE THIS! Why? Why? Why? Why is this OUR reality? Why GOD? I have so many questions for You - GOD!

Today, when I arrived at Matt’s place in the wall, another woman was sitting on the bench crying. This woman was obviously overcome with grief. I wanted to reach out to her but decided to let her be.

I placed my bag of flowers down, along with my pillow in front of Matt’s spot. You see, he is on the bottom of the wall so I have to sit on the pillow to arrange his flowers and replace pictures.

 I said hello to the crying woman. She said hello and then she asked me if I was Matt’s mom. I said, “Yes, I am.” I then asked her if I could give her a hug. She said, “Yes”. We hugged long. We cried a deep Mother’s Day cry. She was also there visiting her son in the wall.

Phillip was her only child. He was killed in an accident in 2005. He had a three year old son that was left behind. She told me she felt that her grandson was a gift from God. I understood why she felt that way. At least she still had a part of her son here. But, I still want to know WHY-GOD? 

We don’t get to know why. It is what it is. Until me and God have a two way conversation I have decided to believe that something good will come out of all of this devastation and heartbreak. I mean, I know a lot of good has come since Matt was killed. I just think that much more good would have come with him still here!  Again I want to know WHY-GOD?

Meeting the woman crying at the wall today was good. We got to talk about our boys. We shared our lives with each other. The vulnerability that comes when you have suffered such a great loss is a blessing. We don’t have anything to hide because our hearts have been broken open. I do see this as good! BUT, I still want to know WHY- GOD?

 I’m incredibly grateful to have two amazing, beautiful, strong and smart grown daughters. This life has been extremely difficult for them both. The loss of a sibling isn’t talked about much. The loss of a sibling to murder is hardly mentioned at all. They have found ways to move forward. I am very proud of these amazing women that I am honored to call my daughters.

Being able to hear their voices every day is my saving grace. I love them both so much. I thank God for them every day. I love my girls. I just miss their brother and will always want to know…WHY-GOD?

I have learned a lot in this lifetime and I have so much more to learn. I’m grateful for the love and friendships that I have. I want to be able to cherish and be grateful for each moment. I am for the most part. But, I still want to know…WHY- GOD? 

So, I will continue to pray every day for God to Clear my mind and heal my heart. Guide my thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Amen





Monday, May 8, 2017

I take ME wherever I go.

Earlier today I found out that a couple people whom I love very much decided to start drinking again. My heart aches. It aches for many reasons. It aches because I have loved these people for a very long time. In fact, one of them has been a dear friend to me for more than 20 years. We have shared our pain, anger and sadness as well as our joys and triumphs.

How do I cope with the pain and sadness caused by their decision to drink again, after years without? How do I deal with the anger that I feel towards them for making a decision that not only affects each of them but so many others as well? I don't know how, just yet. But, I do know one thing for sure, I'm not drinking!

These friends are not the first to make the decision to use again and they won't be the last. Although, I have to say the depth of pain I feel surrounding these two going back out is multiplied by 100.

 My mind is going a million miles a minute wondering how the decision to drink started for each of them and when? What made them think this was a "good" idea? Did they contemplate why? how? when? and where? Did each of these amazingly intelligent, kind and loving people stop and think about what the consequences will look like?

I myself have thought before about maybe drinking again. I guess the only difference between them and myself is that I talk about it. I shared about how I wanted to stop being in the miserable pain I was feeling. I wanted to escape from ME somehow. There is NO ESCAPING the hurt, pain and sadness. I have to walk through it to get to the other side.

 I'm still not fully to the other side, and I'm not sure I ever will be.  I do know that the pain would only be that much worse if I had decided to use a mind altering, mood changing substance to "deal" with it all! I take ME wherever I go.

 I have to allow myself to be vulnerable and human. I have to share with people who love me, that I need some help. I have to tell someone when I'm feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I have to share the ugly stuff that goes on in my head. I have to acknowledge that I am far from having it "all together".  I also have to share about the beautiful stuff too. There is lots of it.

I just needed to get all of this out of me. My heart aches, my head hurts, and I'm very sad. I will continue to pray for my beautiful friends and hope that they make another decision to stop.

God, clear my mind and heal my heart. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. Guide my thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Guide me to where YOU would have me go. Fill me with love, compassion, forgiveness and courage.

Amen






Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The unveiling

When I woke up this morning I knew I had to write. It's been a little bit since I've posted my thoughts. I have so many swirling around in my head. I have to get them out. I'm almost positive once I get these thoughts out, the writing will make no sense to anyone else who happens to read it. Actually, that's OK. I'm the one who needs the release from my incessant and cacophonous mind chatter.

I wanted to share about the beautiful unveiling of the masterpiece sculpture that Chad Glashoff created for Crime Victims Rights Week. This is truly a monument created in love to honor all victims of crime. We are forever grateful to Chad Glashoff for his mind, his hands but mostly for his heart.

Raymond talked with Chad about his own vision that was birthed in 2011. Raymond wanted to have something of significance created in Matt's honor using the unwanted guns that were collected from the 3 successful gun buy back events that The Matt Garcia Foundation hosted.

Our friend Liz Saucedo, who is another amazing artist, created some amazing metal pieces from the guns, for us to auction off at our different events. Thank you Liz <3 We are truly blessed with the many talented and loving people that we have in our lives.

The unveiling of the Bell of Peace & Purpose for National Crime Victims' Rights Week occurred on Tuesday April 4th @ the Matt Garcia Career & College Academy. This event was planned to honor all victims of crime.

The occasion was to honor crime victims and their families as they trudge through the devastation and horror of losing a loved one to crime, or of being a crime victim themselves. The nightmares, the court proceedings, the depression and anxiety are just a few of the commonalities that WE share as victims or victims family members.

My heart aches for every mother, father, sister, brother and loved one who has to walk this often lonely journey. The unanswered questions? The never ending play by play that goes on in our heads more often than I like to admit. The constant daydreams of what could of been and the nightmares of those final moments.

As all of this is ever present in my mind and my heart. I was in shock to learn that some people were offended that their names were not mentioned during this somber event for National Crimes Victims' Rights Week. Really? Had I misunderstood the meaning of this event? Apparently, I had!

This "unveiling of some egos" was a kick in the gut to us. We are not malicious nor do we intentionally go out to hurt or harm ANYONE! My heart aches once again.

My first thought is almost always wrong. I'm so grateful that I did not act on it! My next thought was that we need to appoligize for overlooking some of our leaders. We are grateful for your service. Thank you so much! Now, I must say it... This wasn't about YOU!

I will continue to try and do the right thing for the right reason. We will mess up at times. We are human. But, we will not give up on helping victims of crime and their families.

Thank you to ALL of you who helped in honoring National Crime Victims' Rights Week April 2-8 2017 God, please clear our minds and heal our hearts. Guide our thoughts feelings and perceptions. Guide us to where you would have us go. Give us the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak. AMEN








Monday, March 27, 2017

THE LIGHT



This morning on Facebook I posted this quote, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Rumi wrote these beautiful words.

 When I first read this quote many years ago, I did not fully understand its meaning. Many years later, after the murder of Kathy and then my son Matthew, I got it! The light does enter through the wound!
 
I, of course, have to permit the light to enter. The grief and brokenness of my soul has been a catalyst for the opening of my heart.

It seems almost backward when I try to articulate the feeling. It is a sacred wound. It is located in a space which can only be penetrated by some sort of soul wound. This is the only way that I can explain it.

I’m grateful for this magnificent light that has entered me. This brilliant light has given me the courage and strength to move forward.

There have been many times when I thought I would never be able to move at all. I thought I would be lost in the darkness that hovered all around me. I felt it every second of every day.

 I do still have moments of darkness, the darkness is still there lurking in the background, but these moments have lessened over time.

The gift of embracing the light within has saved me. I call this magnificent, brilliant, glorious light - GOD.
I don’t ever want to know that feeling again -The awful dread of not allowing the light in.


Thank you GOD

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Strength, Resilience, Justice

 National Crime Victims Rights week begins April 2nd through April 8th.

The Matt Garcia Foundation along with the Matt Garcia Career and College Academy, Artist, Chad Glashoff, the DA's office and state and local leaders will join together on April 4th to unveil a beautiful art piece created by Chad Glashoff. The piece is a tribute to all victims of crime. It represents the Strength, Resilience and Justice for victims and their families.

As I sit here staring at this computer screen I am having a difficult time finding words to use for a short speech regarding National Crime Victims Rights Week. It would be wonderful if crime victims and crime victims families were victims for only one week out of the year.

The fact of the matter is that this is lifelong. The Strength, Resilience and Justice is what a crime victim has to hang onto in order to survive day by day.

Most people don't want to be labeled as a victim, PERIOD. I know I don't. The definition itself feels defeating. So, we stand up with strength that we gather from our loved ones. We are resilient. We will not take NO for an answer. We seek out Justice for ourselves, our families and our fellow human beings.

We become advocates for others facing this overwhelming journey. Our hearts become an open door. We understand the devastation, pain, heartache and frustration that each crime victim and their families will encounter.

What I do know for sure is that the love and support that our family continues to receive has definitely made a positive impact on us. We want to be available to give that back to other crime victims and their families.

There is not any shortcuts through the shock, pain and grief. From my experience thus far, I can say that I have a permanent empty space in my heart that can not be filled or replaced by anything. Trust me I've tried to fill it with outside things for years and it doesn't work.

 At times the pain can overtake me. It doesn't matter where I am, the movies, shopping or at work. The pain will move over me like a huge storm cloud that I am not even aware of until its on top of me.

 I am learning to just kind of sit with it. Allow the pain in and to move through me. It seems to not last as long if I give myself permission to feel it and let it come. This is a skill that I have acquired from watching other moms of murdered children. We help each other live. This is Strength and Resilience!

I have summarized Strength and Resilience. Now, here I am at the Justice part of the theme for National Crime Victims Rights Week. This is bit more difficult for me to talk about.

You see, I believe at the core of my being that the driver of the getaway car is equally responsible for my sons murder. She was never charged with any crime. I will never be able to wrap my mind around this.

I am reminded that I also know of many victims and their families who are faced with not knowing who killed their loved one. Some of these are now cold cases. I do not know what that feels like everyday. My heart aches for each of them.

 The shooter and another accomplice in my son's murder are in prison. For this fact, I am grateful. I will continue to move forward in the knowledge that these two were charged in Matt's murder. I will continue to pray for some semblance of justice for the many victims and their families who's perpetrators and murderers have yet to be brought to justice.

I never mentioned cousin Kathy and her murderer. He is also in prison. He murdered Kathy on April 19, 1999. As a matter of fact, I returned from SoCal just 8 days ago. I'm still processing the entire experience.

 Myself, Kathy's nephew Lloyd and Kathy's sister Doreen  (via conference call) attended Mack West's initial parole hearing. Again, we are grateful that he is in prison and will be there for another 5 years...hopefully.

My experience with justice is clouded. Again we are grateful that some of those responsible for Matt and Kathy's murders are behind bars. But, I also feel that we as a society, have a ways to go.

God, clear our minds and heal our hearts. Guide our thoughts, our feelings, and our perceptions. Give us the eyes to see, the ears to hear, and the words to speak.  Amen