Monday, March 27, 2017


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

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Dance

I just finished watching the movie, Rabbit Hole. It was about a couple who lost their 4 year old son.  His name was Danny. He was chasing after his dog and ran into the street in front of his house. 

A teen aged boy was driving down that street at exactly the same time that Danny was about to run in front of his car. The teen aged young man, named Jason, swerved to miss the dog and ended up hitting and killing little Danny. The story begins 8 months after Danny’s death.

I related to the story in regard to Danny’s mom trying to keep busy. She would do whatever she could to not think. She looked for any kind of distractions to stay out of her head and her heart.

 I too look for ways to distract myself.  I get angry when I start to sense the self-pity moving over me like a dark cloud.  I can’t get away from it no matter what I do. So, I try and sit with it for as long as I can. Feel it, breathe it in and then I try to blow it all out. It never works!

 It’s like a dance that I perform every day. Some days I dance all day and into my dreams. Other days it’s a short dance. But, there is always a dance. I don’t want to dance.

In the movie the distraught mother didn’t want to go to the support group anymore. She thought they talked too much about God. I understand that too. Not that we talk about God at my group. But, because some people want to talk to me about God’s plan. Often times, I just repeat what they say instead of saying “Fuck you”. 

These are my friends, people whom I love and whom truly love me. They honestly want to support me. I don’t want to hurt them with my words. I can be really good at using my words to hurt others. I also don't want them to stop talking to me, afraid that they may say the "wrong" thing.

I believe this is the reason I started writing. I want to write about what is really going on without hurting anyone. It feels safe here. I can choose who gets to read about my thoughts, my feelings and my dance. This is the one thing that belongs to me. No one can shoot my words in the head and kill them. I can protect my words here. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kathy’s murderer


On March 14th I will board an airplane for a 1 hour flight to SoCal. I will then meet up with a Solano County Deputy District Attorney. We will drive from Burbank to Lancaster Prison to attend the parole hearing for the man who murdered my cousin, Kathy O’Brien.

This is Mack Arthur West’s initial parole hearing. He murdered Kathy on April 19th 1999, nearly 18 years ago. When Kathy’s body was discovered on a rural road in Fairfield, it was not clear what had happened to her. At first, it was thought that she may have been hit by a car and dragged for some time. Her injuries were that severe.

Later, it would be announced that Kathy was stabbed over her entire body more than 50 times. Most of the stab wounds were of her upper torso and face. She also had several stab wounds to her hands. We all knew that Kathy fought very hard to stay alive.

The shock of what had happened to Kathy has never left me. The thoughts of what she went through that night will haunt me forever.

 The horrific and vicious murder of Kathy could only be committed by an insane killer. The physical act of actually stabbing someone over 50 times is something I will never be able to wrap my mind around. Mack Arthur West should never be given the opportunity to walk among us.

The sickening details of Kathy’s death not only shocked us all, her murder devastated our entire family. My aunt and uncle would be unable to attend the 8 long years of hearings and postponements for Kathy’s murderer. The gruesome details would be too much for them to bear.

The murderer continued to play the courtroom at every hearing I attended. I attended all of them except for the ones that I was not notified about. My anger and distrust of the system grew as I watched this crazed lunatic act out in the courtroom. He would yell and scream and even threaten the judge.

The judge had him placed in the glass box where we could still see him but he could not distract the proceedings with his verbal outbursts. The murderer decided to bang on the glass, play with himself, and spit. He wanted to be sure that everyone could see that he was insane. That was his defense. Not guilty by reason of insanity.

I for one did not need to be convinced of his insanity. Anybody that could physically plunge a sharpened object into another, and do it over and over, more than 50 times, is INSANE!
None of this matters in a court of law. Mack Arthur West has rights that cannot be denied. I was infuriated by all of this. It was a circus.

After living this nightmare for eight long years, Mack Arthur West was sentenced to 15 years to life in January of 2007. Kathy’s dad died from cancer before the conclusion of this nightmare.

So much had happened in those long eight years. My kids were not kids anymore. In 2007 my son Matt had ran for and won a seat on the Fairfield city council. He was now the youngest elected official in our city. He was 21 years old. 

Our happiness and pride for him was felt all over our city. 
Matt wanted to make Fairfield a safer place for all of us. His main focus was our young people. He wanted them to be proud of whom they are and to take pride in where they live. He realized that our city was not a place that young people had very many options.

Fairfield no longer had a bowling alley, a skating rink, or a boys and girls club. Matt understood that removing all these places for our young people to socialize was detrimental to our community. He said, when you take away these things, what do you think is going to happen when these kids don’t have anything to do?  There will be trouble.

The young people were excited to have a young person to help speak up for them. Our city was filled with a wonderful sense of community and hope that we had not seen or felt in a long while.

Matt was instrumental in talks regarding a youth center that would soon be opening. He was helpful in getting the city council and the school board to sit down and talk together for the first time in many years. He understood that WE ALL had to work together to bring solutions to the scourge and violence which had been increasing in our city.

Matt was on the city council for 10 months. We received a call on the evening of Sept. 1. 2008. Matt had been shot in the head while visiting a friend outside of her home in a quiet neighborhood. Our lives changed forever that night.

The 8 years spent waiting for justice for Kathy, turned into the most intense devastation, grief and loss I would ever experience.  My son Matt was now gone too. The violence has to stop!

 I will be present at every parole hearing for Kathy’s murderer. I will be at any and all parole hearings for my son Matt’s murderer. Matt’s murderer and Kathy’s murderer also happen to be in the same Lancaster prison. How does that even happen?

At times I scream at God!  I cuss at God!  Why... God? Why did you allow these heinous acts of violence to take place in our family? I am quickly reminded that God didn’t commit these horrendous acts. These were committed by murderers who have no concern for human life. I will be there every step of the way to remind whoever needs reminded. 
I will be there next Tuesday March 14th to remind the parole board of Kathy’s murderer.