Last night as the evening came to a close, I had a mental idea of all the work I was going to get done today. That's a typical Sunday night activity for me. I did the usual Facebook peek before I marched off to bed. I still can't wrap my head around the message I received regarding the sudden death of a dear friend I have known for 25 years. I have not gotten anything done today. She is why.
I will not use her name, only refer to her as she. She was an abused and battered woman. She did not die at the hands of her husband directly, yet I will always believe his cruelty is what killed her in the long run. Despite being lucky enough to have gotten away from him, the mental abuse, fear and constant problems he continued to cause her led to a series of severe bleeding ulcers which led to her death.
She and I met many years ago at a Christmas Party. I liked her right away. She was beautiful, had huge dimples with an infectious smile and just wanted to talk about babies. She had infant twins and wanted to know all about how to handle colic. We laughed ALOT. Meeting her in person made me question what she was doing with her husband. He was the polar opposite of her. Mean, crass and completely narcissistic.
Yes, everyone has their reasons for loving their spouse. Maybe there was something about him that no one else saw. He was the father of her children and for all intents and purposes she appeared to be very happy. Yet, instances that occurred during the times we all spent together made me question her happiness. Everything was all about him; all the time. She was a talented musician and a special needs teacher as well. College educated though she was then a stay at home mom. I always had the feeling she missed working.
During a special event I was having, she attended. The first thing she told me was that she was unable to stay long. She looked me in the eye and said, "Teppi, I'm a controlled woman. I live on a very short leash". This broke my heart. She quickly left.
We continued to maintain a friendship. Years passed and we would spend time together on company incentive trips as our husbands were in the same business. I would watch her and her husband closely and I could see that there was always a sense of fear in her eyes. Yet she stayed and stayed for years. One day I received a different kind of phone call from her.
We hadn't spoken in quite some time. She told me things that made my hair stand on end.
Her husband had threatened to kill her. He had been doing drugs and was getting worse and worse abusively. He had her on an allowance and wasn't giving her any money for food. He had been hitting her. He had held a gun on his children. He forced her to have sex on demand. He had the whole family terrified to make a move. The last straw was him grabbing her by the hair and smashing her face into a wall. One day while he was out, she took the girls and left. It took a lot of planning ahead.
Somehow she made her way to another state. She attempted to stay in a place where he would not be able to find her. It was difficult as the girls still wanted to see their dad. Funny, kids can be so resilient, so filled with unconditional love. She called periodically to update me on what was happening.
Over the years since she left she had struggled financially, mentally and physically. The job market was difficult, she was laid off of her job. The stress of trying to raise children and maintain a home was getting to her. She also had severe self esteem issues that she struggled with as a result of verbal battering. The ex controlled her weight. If she gained any, she was not allowed to be seen. She was broken down.
Since the time she left him, I never saw her once. She would not send pictures of herself and always told me she was "too fat" to be seen. I knew that wasn't true; I just wanted to see my friend.
The last time we spoke on the phone she told me she had met a wonderful man. He took care of her, he helped her with everything. But as per her life, he was from another country - he had to leave. She was devastated.
Late last year she created a facebook page. She had been too afraid in the past to do it. She did not want the ex to know where she was or what she was doing. Her friends were so excited to just see her beautiful face - and no, she was not "too fat". She posted periodically and we talked occasionally through my move. That was only through messaging and not on the phone which saddens me deeply now.
I do not handle death well. Who does? Who can stand to hear that a 52 year old woman full of potential , love and life has been taken from us? A woman with children, albeit older children who now have no mother?
I look at my phone. I see her number. I want to call and hear her voice and tell her to hang in there, that things will get better. I know she always believed that - she had the strength to leave an abusive husband for a better life. To better her children's life.
I can't say if the stress of everything is what killed her. I'm not a doctor. But I do believe in my heart of hearts that it did. I believe that her ex's abuse and the ensuing stress caused her to leave us long before she should. No woman should allow this to happen, no man should get away with ruining another persons life.
I hope one abused woman may find her way to this story and draw the strength to leave. She did find that strength and although she did not live long enough to reap the benefits, for the time she was "free" I know she was happy.
I will miss my friend. We did not talk often enough but we never missed a beat when we did and my heart will hurt for her for a long time. Someday when my kids have kids, if one of them has colic, I'll remember our first conversation. I'll smile, I'll be thinking of my friend.
May she rest in peace. I believe she will.