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

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