Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Home free...20 years later

“It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” 

― Rose Kennedy

Rick and me in 1995
20 years ago today, our lives were changed forever. 20 years ago today, a senseless act of jealous rage took my brother away from us. 20 years ago today, Rick died alone on a cold and snowy night. But 20 years ago today at 10:59 p.m., Rick got to see the stars for the first time ever and was reunited with our loved ones when he closed his eyes on this Earth and opened them in heaven.

I never did like the quote "time heals all wounds" and when I learned of the quote above, I thought it better suited the way I have felt over the last 20 years. The wound that was left when Rick was murdered will never go away. Yes, the pain has softened slightly, but it will never be completely gone. Not everything, however, has been all doom and gloom these last 20 years and neither will this post. The murder of my brother was one of the most horrific times of my life but out of the unforgivable tragedy, there have been many blessings.

When Rick was killed, we learned just how important family was and learned how to stick together when times are tough.

We realized just how fragile life can be and in the blink of an eye, someone you love and care about can be taken from you so even to this day, we never part ways or end a phone conversation without saying "I love you" because you never know when that time will be the last.

Our family has grown by more than just marriages and births. Our family has grown because many of Rick's friends are not only still his friends who keep him close in heart, but they have become part of our family, too.

I personally learned the importance of faith from my parents and how that faith becomes your life preserver so you can just keep swimming. 

Had it not been for Rick's murder, I may not be alive today. At the time of his death, I was in a domestically violent marriage and it's because of Rick's death at the hands of his abuser that I finally had the strength and courage that May to get myself and my young son out of the situation before it was too late. And it doesn't stop there. In January of that same year, I started talking to one of Rick's best friends, Paul, and we haven't stopped talking =) . Up until he and I got married in 1999, my son and I lived with my mom and dad and I will be forever thankful for that time because the two of us developed such a special relationship with my parents, one we wouldn't have had otherwise. Paul raised Kelly as his own and in 2001, we were blessed with our own Rick.

All of these things, as well as a couple others I didn't mention, have helped lessen the pain but there is not a day that goes by that I don't wish I could pick up the phone and call my brother; not a day that goes by that I don't miss his hugs and his infectious smile; not a family gathering that I don't look around and wish he there with us; not a moment I look at my children, my nieces and nephews, and even my greats and wonder what Rick's children would have been like. I will always miss him but I am thankful for the blessings over the last 20 years and the promise that this life is not the end and that one day I will see him again.

Coincidentally, there always seems to be a winter snow storm either close to or on Rick's "angel" anniversary. While some people grumble and complain about the snow, I don't...I like to think of it as a reminder from up about that Rick is never truly gone.

Love and miss you,  Slick. Give Papa D a hug and kiss for me.


If you'd like to learn more about Rick's life and his death, you can visit the Facebook page I created for him Home Free - In Memory of Richard G. Whitcomb, Jr. You do not need an account to view it.

Happy Birthday Rick Whitcomb is a picture video set to music I created in honor of the 15th birthday Rick spent in heaven. It is posted on You Tube.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A sister remembered

When you die, that doesn’t mean you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and the manner in which you live.

So live.

Fight like hell, and when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let someone else fight for you.

– ESPN’s Stuart Scott

Any time I see this quote, I can’t help but think of my dear friend and sister-in-pink, Kris Stefanac. It was two years ago today she earned her angel wings and to this day, to say she lost her battle has never sat well with me. Kris was not a loser, she was anything but. She fought her battle with grace and beauty every step of the way and when God decided her time on Earth was done, she won… because of her faith, she is now in heaven with her loved ones and is waiting for those of us who believe to join her.

In life, she was my inspiration and in death, she still continues to inspire me. In life, she was a teacher (thanks to her, I can defend myself the BJJ way), a friend, a sister-in-pink and in Christ, a role model, and through her own battle, she taught me that despite whatever negatives life throws your way, look at the positives and be happy for them, thank God for them, and live your life to the fullest. I’ll never forget the conversation we had when she came to visit me after my surgery. She knew God put cancer in her life for a reason and allowed our paths to cross because He knew I would need her and that one day, He will use me and what I went through to help someone else. I'm sure there were times she was bitter about her situation but wow, what a thing to say. It's just a testimony of the kind of person Kris was and how she was able to find something good in a not-so-good situation and the kind of person I strive to be because of her.

In death, she has continued to be an inspiration. It was in her honor and memory that I ran my first 5K in June 2014 and it's because of that race, I found a love for running. And now, whether it be a race or a casual run around the neighborhood, there's not a moment that goes by that I don't think about her, miss her, and thank God He brought her into my life. Part of her is with me always and I am a better person for knowing her.

Happy Angel Anniversary, my dear friend and sister, Kris. I love you and miss you and look forward to the day I will see your beautiful face once again. PS. Give Papa D and my brother a hug for me.