From my earliest recollection, the gift of life has been a choice gift from a loving Heavenly Father; mine to do with as I chose, and mine to help give another through a loving relationship and the miracle of birth. That is the reason each of my children have such a special place in my life. Please don’t think I am claiming my life was perfect.
My husband and I met after we had each gone through a divorce. We fell in love and brought six children together to try and learn to love each other. We accomplished this with varying degrees of success, depending on who you talk to. But we felt good about it and adopted two babies that were also loved and cherished.
Over the next 22 years the number of living children dwindled from eight to five, due to violent acts. With each loss our love for each other grew stronger, even in the face of inexplicable sorrow. Yes, my love grew for my husband, children and my maker. While I never became angry or bitter, my feelings of loss and frustration over senseless waste of life began to grow. I was volunteering, served as President of MADD, on the board of directors for several DV shelters, ran a clothes closet for homeless women trying to find jobs.
After the death of my 28 year old daughter to domestic violence, it was time to escalate my efforts against violence. My husband supported my efforts totally and made it possible for me to go into action. I never started out trying to build a memorial to my children. I wanted to leave a legacy, I just wanted to leave a gift that would keep other parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends from having to face heartbreaking losses we endured.
After trying many different approaches, we finally settled on the performing arts as a vehicle to bring the proper focus of the violent ways we lose loved ones. We wrote, or caused to be written, two musicals and one book play that tell the story. Finally, I found balm for my aching heart. It was not something I started out to do for myself. I found it performing in front of men and women inmates in the Arizona prison system. I found it at a Marine base in Japan, in an Air Force Base in New Mexico, in Military bases from California to North Carolina across these United Sates. I found it presenting to High School Students, and College students wherever they could be found. I find it especially in the letters and phone calls received, describing how the training we provide has helped people get friends, family and even casual acquaintances out of harm’s way.
This year, as we prepare to take training to our troops in Germany, to provide training to the officers at the Commander’s College at Ft. Leavenworth and other military installations, the importance and effectiveness of the message in our training programs makes me wish we had this many people to reach all year round. But, I am thankful for what we have. And so it goes with our Love, our Life and that is our Legacy.