Monday, December 30, 2013

Saying goodbye to 2013

As another year comes to a close in a couple days, I am looking forward. Our family and friends have been a beautiful lifeline in my moments of difficulty.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

This new year holds so much hope along with some hurdles. But as I, and so many others know for sure, every year holds these same hopes and hurdles. Life is life. It's up to each one of us to focus on whatever it is we choose to focus on. We will ALL encounter situations and life events that will bring us joy or bring us sadness. 

I continually remind myself and others that WE can help bring the change. I don't want to see this happen to anyone else. 

7. Killer of city councilman may get new trial

 What will I choose to focus on?  How will I bring Joy to others? How will I help to bring change for a better tomorrow?

Making each moment amazing.

Happy New Year

Friday, November 29, 2013

Where do I go from here?: Thankful every Day

We had a very quiet and simple Thanksgiving Day. I have to say that although I did miss having the big family dinner, it was a nice change. Both of the girls had to work and my husband was sick. We simply cooked our meal and sat around all day. My sister visited for a couple hours. We looked through old pictures and laughed. My oldest daughter came over before she went to work. She ate some mashed potatoes and we took a couple photos before she left. Our youngest daughter returned home from work at 7pm. All in all, a very uneventful but cherished Thanksgiving Day.

Our holiday's continue to get smaller each year. We are all mindful of this fact so we make the best out of what we have right here and right now. I'm forever grateful for what and who I have in my life at this moment. For the relationships that have been born and even for the ones that have faded. I am Thankful Every Day!

I love this poem which sums it all up for me:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
— Unknown


.Where do I go from here?: Thankful every Day

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I have been in my room for most of this day, making the decision to clean out my closets and drawers. It was time to donate my clothes that I have not worn in a year or longer. As I was purging my things, I felt as though my journals were calling to me. The stacks of beautifully bound books with all  my thoughts about life, love, pain and injustice seemed to be saying, Look here, open me, read me. I knew in my heart of hearts that this is really what I have been needing to do for the past couple of weeks now. You see, I have to locate the entries that I wrote in my journal regarding the day in May of 2010 when the juror and the defendants girlfriend were having a conversation in the hallway of the Solano County Courthouse in Vallejo during a recess in trial for the murderer of my son.

I was told by the appellate state attorney that Henry Don Williams, the murderer of my son, was claiming that his girlfriend, who is now his wife, was approached by the juror in question and that he asked her for sex in exchange for his vote of Not guilty. She states that she never told anyone until recently because she didn't think anyone would believe her. Well, Guess what? No one believes you now either. 

What is truly alarming for me is the fact that when our family witnessed this conversation with the juror and the killers girlfriend, we immediately alerted the investigator and prosecutor. They then went into a closed session with the judge, both attorneys and the juror in question. The judge decided that the juror did no wrong and made the decision to allow him to stay on the jury. Our family was not happy with this decision and told the prosecutor that we wanted that juror removed and an alternate to replace him. I was told that is not how it works. The judge had the final say and he decided the juror did nothing wrong. Well what about the murderers girlfriend? She knew full well that man was a juror. She had been in the courtroom the entire time, just like us!

During the trial, in Vallejo, everyone is in the hallway together. I was told that in some counties the Defendant in handcuffs, is walked though the hallway where everyone else is. I'm not sure if that comment was supposed to cheer me up? IT DID NOT! It did however, move in me, a deeper desire to look at ways to change the ATTITUDE of, THIS IS THE WAY IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN DONE! I am confident that if there were another trial the outcome would be the same. The point for me is that WHY would we have to go through this again? Also, not to mention the millions of dollars spent on re-trials.  My hard earned tax dollars and yours. It's insane. I'm not naive. I realize that the criminals will always come up with new ways to buck the system. It's up to us to stay vigilant and not become complacent or apathetic.

My heart is forever broken and there will be no repairing the missing piece. Our son, brother, grandson nephew,cousin and friend, Gone.  

We have a system that needs some serious fixing. I'm not talking about just what we are going through.

I sat with my friend recently, as she waited for the second time to read her victim impact statement to a man who assisted in her sons murder. She sat for 2 hours, on 2 separate occasions waiting for the conflict public defender. He never showed up!  Oh my God! My heart was breaking for her as the DA and the victim advocate called all around to find the guy. Finally, after 2 hours she was told that the conflict public defender was in Vallejo court and couldn't get away. REALLY! He knew his client was being sentenced at 8:30 that day. He never called to say he would not be there. It was a horrible tactic, he used to postpone again! Who does HE answer to? Again, system failure.

 This is the kind of injustice I am talking about. Are you that IMPORTANT that you think it's ok to just not show up, AGAIN?  TWICE? Then to have the victim advocate mention a motion that the defense had filed but no one ever told my friend that a motion was filed! These are situations that MUST be addressed and rectified. I continue to watch this happen with many victims and their family members.

These are some of the same things which took place with our family when my cousin Kathy was murdered here in Fairfield in April of 1999. We were not notified of hearing dates/changes or motions filed on many occasions. The defendant had all the rights and representation. Our family was devastated. We had to learn to use whatever means we could, writing letters to the editor, going to news outlets, to bring any awareness to this serious misconduct by our system.

 Mack West was finally sentenced to 15 years to life in 2007. Which took place 8 years after he stabbed my cousin Kathy, more than 50 times with a sharpened screwdriver, and then threw her body out onto Cherry Glen Road. Just 1 year later, my son was murdered in 2008.

I know that our justice system does do some things right. I had two wonderful victim advocates during both murder cases of our loved ones. I am very grateful to have had them by my side. They were both compassionate and available to us.

I believe where change needs to take place, is in the attitudes and  behaviors of some of our attorneys.Yes, you need to give ANY information you receive about motions filed/hearings and changes in the location of hearings, to the victims and their family members, either yourself or through the victim advocate. If we don't have enough victim advocates to relay the information, then recruit and train volunteers! Attorneys you need to SHOW UP to the sentencing of your clients! Is this too much to expect?
Let us look into a redesign of our courthouses to ensure that the contact between jurors and defendants family members CAN'T HAPPEN. I'm sure this would be a lot less costly than re-trials.

 I will not be silent. We must be the voices for the victims and their families who continue to be traumatized by a system that needs to be updated.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King Jr

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Scattered thoughts

I just posted beautiful quotes on both facebook pages. It helps me to try and focus my day on being positive and to really LIVE in each moment. I have been conditioning myself with positive affirmations for many years. Just to be clear, I am not always positive. Although, I try to live in a way that will not only help me but will help others to remember that We are All HERE for a purpose.

With that being said, I'm trying to find some purpose and meaning in things that make no sense. I am not naive and I do realize that there are some things that will never make sense. The murder of my son, being one of those things.

I received another letter in the PO box, from Gene Combs 2 days ago. The letter stated that his attorney advised him not to meet with me or answer any questions that I have regarding the night Matt was shot, until all of his appeals have run out. OK so now I can stop looking for flights to San Diego.

I do understand that Gene Combs is the one who turned in the three people responsible for Matt's death (Gene Combs, himself,  included). I never will understand how he was charged with murder and Nicole Stewart, the shooter, Henry Don Williams, pregnant girlfriend, also she was the driver of the getaway car,  and she never went to the police until she was arrested, was NEVER charged with a single crime?
 This is just one of the things that I will probably never know in my lifetime. So, How do I find purpose and meaning in this?

I try to focus on how to make things better for our young people. How to help these children who are born to people who live this life of no consequences for horrific crimes, to become responsible and productive people. These innocent children have no say in these situations. They are innocent and helpless.

We can all choose to live in a world of constant devastation, anger and pain. Or, we can choose to live in a world where we can help one another. There will always be difficult times and events in each of our lives. I believe that one of the reasons why we are HERE is to learn how to reach out a hand and help someone else. As this has been my experience. I am eternally grateful for the many, many hands that have continued to reach out to me and my family. My heart smiles from all of the love. I want to be able to do that for others. Thank you all for showing me how.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Violence begets more violence

I just sent a comment to the President.  Today marks the 5-year anniversary of my son, Matthew's murder. I asked the President to please not send any troops, or launch any weapons whatsoever, into Syria. Violence only begets more violence. I get it, I can SEE now. I understand Mahatma Gandhi's quote more than ever: An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind. 

 I also understand that if I had tried to harm those who killed my son; I would only be creating more violence.
 Our family’s lives have been forever changed by Matt's death. His death has caused us to continue to move forward to help others in seeing that love and forgiveness can change lives for the better.

I am not sure if the President will ever see my comment, but I had to send it because I believe it. I am praying for the millions of families who have been completely devastated by murder, genocide and the horrors of violence in this world that we live in. To see these innocent babies murdered, is beyond any of our worst nightmares.
God, guide and comfort us all
 I do know that retaliating is not going to bring our loved ones back. What is it about some of us, in which we feel the need to show "others" how powerful we are by launching our own missiles, death and destruction on the perpetrators?  It doesn't work.
 Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Albert Einstein

 I must also say that I have seen the beauty, the peace and the love, which has come from many of these same affected families, as they have decided to allow the light and love of God to shine through the darkness. Our daughters, Briana and Tea-rae are just two examples of this.

We will continue to ask for a miracle. I love what I read on pages 66 & 67 in Marianne Williamson’s book, A Return to Love: "If we think of ourselves as beings of this world, then the laws of scarcity and death, which rule this world, will rule us. If we think of ourselves as children of God, whose real home lies in a realm of awareness beyond this world, then we will find we are under no laws but God's." 

I know that I am a child of God and I have a purpose here.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Feels like Fall

As I sit here, at my morning post, in front of the computer. The backdoor is open and I can feel the cool air and hear the leaves rustling. I could not sleep last night as I am aware of the time of year that it is, by the sounds and smells of fall arriving.

 This will be year five that these sights, sounds and smells have had life changing meaning. It will be 5 years on September 1st that my only son was shot and killed. The sounds of the wind and the leaves always take me back to that night. 

 Not a minute goes by, where Matt is not a thought in my mind. There is a never ending ache in my heart. A space that I can never really fully comprehend. It's a forever lost sense of being. 

I thank God everyday for my girls, who have continued to keep me moving forward. I thought that I was helping them, when in all actuality, those two have filled me with peace, strength and so much love.

My life is filled with the most amazing family and friends. I am eternally grateful.
 I focus my attention on helping myself and others to not live in suffering. I often remind myself that we are all here for a short time. Make the best of each moment because really, that is all we have. I'm not denying my pain and devastation, I just can't live there! It would serve no purpose and would help no one, especially myself.

I am keenly aware that there are many lessons to be learned. I can choose to be part of the problem or I can choose to be part of the solution. This is a decision only I can make! In this moment, I choose to be part of the solution. 
The solution to what, you may ask? For me, it is the decision to live in anger, pain and misery or to be mindful and grateful for all that I do have.

 We all know that terrible things happen in this world every second of the day. Do we focus on this fact and bring more negative energy in to this world? Or, do we get up and decide to make this one spot a little brighter? A simple smile can do that! 

When I find it difficult to get into the solution, I write a gratitude list. Beginning with the air that I am breathing. My family, my friends, our amazing community. I quickly move on to having a roof over my head, always having plenty to eat. I get reminded very quickly, just how much I have to be grateful for.

I believe I just made my gratitude list for today. I am feeling better. I am part of the solution. Fall is in the air.

 Thank you God! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Where do I go from here?: Awakening

Where do I go from here?: Awakening: It has been a long time since I have written anything here. I have been focusing on living in the moment. Many incredible events have happen...


It has been a long time since I have written anything here. I have been focusing on living in the moment. Many incredible events have happened. Making the decision to live my mission statement, which is, to model the power of perseverance with hope and inspiration everywhere, has helped me to step out of myself and help others to do the same.

I recently received a clearance letter to visit one of the men responsible for my son, Matt's murder. This is an opportunity for me to move forward on my own personal life journey. I'm not sure when I will go, but I will go to San Diego to meet with him. There is a appellate court hearing for both Gene Combs and Henry Don Williams for their appeal cases, on July 2,(which happens to be one of Matt's sisters birthday) in San Francisco. I will be there.

The Matt Garcia Foundation is doing great. The work that I and so many others put into making the foundation successful in helping others has been amazing. The thousands of supporters that we have is simply incredible. My heart smiles constantly because I know that Matt is smiling down on us.

My work for Kaiser is great too. I have been with Kaiser for 13 years and I couldn't be prouder of this company. They help so many. We are working hard to become Solano County's Trauma 2 Center. I have thought about what may have happened differently, if anything, had Kaiser in Vacaville been a Trauma 2 Center when Matt was shot? I don't dwell on that question, because it is pointless. Although, I think about how having a trauma 2 center at Kaiser Vacaville will absolutely save lives.

I will continue to live my passion which is helping others find their passion. Modeling the power of perseverance with hope and inspiration everywhere.

Living in gratitude,

Monday, February 4, 2013

Continuous life changers

 I have been on an amazing spiritual journey, since the murder of
Matt, actually even before Matt's death. 

 I have been slowly moving
into the forgiveness phase of my own personal journey. Raymond and I
have met with Ryan Estes, the supposed intended target of the bullet
on Sept 1, 2008. He has asked for our forgiveness. Ryan has also
confirmed what I had already known, that Henry Don Williams knew he
was NOT shooting at his friend Ryan Estes. We have forgiven Ryan I
have also had some correspondence with Gene Combs, the one who turned
himself in and id'd the shooter and the driver.

 Since this nightmare began I have been in contact with my favorite
author Marianne Williamson. I have been following her and her work for
over 22 years. She was part of a film in 2007 called "The Power of
Forgiveness". Myself and about 7 of my closest girlfriends went to see
this film in Davis in 2007.

I was working on forgiveness and my anger that I had toward the
murderer, Mack Arthur West, who stabbed my cousin Kathy O'Brien to
death in 1999. He was finally sentenced in 2007 to 15 years to life.
The film began with how the Amish community was so forgiving of the
massacre of six innocent amish children in Oct. 2006

This film also featured Azim Khamisa, who's 20 year old son was shot
and killed by a 14 year old, for a pizza. Azim and the 14 year old
shooters grandfather speak nationally at schools about youth violence
and forgiveness. I have been in contact with Mr. Azim Khamisa recently
due to a series of incredible "coincidences".

I am also working on becoming part of the Restorative Justice program
at San Quentin Prison. There are so many amazing things happening. 

God, continue guide me where you would have me go. Give me the eye's to see and the ear's to hear. clear my Mind and Heal my Heart. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cacophony of voices

My mind has been reeling with the cacophony of voices surrounding the gun violence issues. For me, there are so many things that must be addressed along with the gun violence.
Violence appears to be addicting!

In 1999 my cousin, Kathy O'Brien was stabbed to death, over 50 times, with a sharpened screw-driver. Her body was then tossed out of a car and left on Cherry Glen Road. The murderer was a drug addict with mental illness. Did his drug addiction cause the progression of his mental illness or did his mental illness cause him to self medicate with drugs? I don't know? But, the fact is...Kathy suffered a horrific VIOLENT death.

My son, Matthew was shot in the back of the head and killed by a drug addict who also claimed to be a southerner (gang affiliated). Addiction is a mental illness! Is gang violence a mental illness? Is violence a mental illness? If violence is an addiction does that make it a mental illness? Would my son still be dead if the shooter was unable to get that gun at a garage sale? Or, maybe if  Matt would have had a gun himself, he could have shot back? Would the children and staff of Sandy Hook Elementary be alive today if the killer didn't have easy access to the guns in his mothers house? Would his mother still be alive if she had a gun on her person and shot her son before he shot her? What if he was treated for his mental illness?

These are questions that can NOT be answered by addressing just one aspect of these multi layered issues. I believe that WE as a UNITED STATES of AMERICA have to come together and address this Addiction to Violence!

I don't have the answers but I believe we have to continue a respectful dialog as a nation who MUST live, breath and work together. We will not survive and our children will continue to die without us addressing every aspect of this disease of Violence.

My two cents

 The main goal of the future is to stop violence. The world is addicted to it.
~ Bill Cosby

Nonviolence is not a thing that comes easily. You have to learn how to be nonviolent.
~ Betty Williams