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On the way to my niece’s wedding two weeks ago we passed two county sheriff’s vehicles and a state trooper’s car, all running with lights and sirens, as we made our way through town that afternoon. They were heading in the opposite direction, and I was (almost) wishing this wasn’t my day off – so I would be at work and would know what was going on.  But we continued on, and I knew I would hear about it a few days later at briefing when I went back to work.

Over the weekend I heard that a woman in my little home town had been shot and killed on the street the previous day. This was the reason for the sheriff and state trooper response.  The man who killed her had been found and arrested that night.

It wasn’t until I went back to work two days later that I realized the woman who was killed was a friend and high school classmate. She and I had been friends since freshman year of high school, and we had both been very involved in the drama club at school.  She had been a nurse for 25 years, and worked at a nearby nursing home and care center.  She and I regularly attended the same church.

We held her memorial service today at that church. It was a packed house.  I shed more tears than I expected.

My friend, like so many other women, had been in a relationship that turned abusive. I don’t know exactly how long she had been struggling with the weight of all this; she wasn’t the kind of person to complain or make a big deal about her problems.  She was always more concerned about other people and their problems, and doing whatever was in her power to help them.  She was kind, and generous, and had a smile that could melt an iceberg and light up a stadium.

She had gotten a restraining order against the man who was abusing her a few weeks prior to her death.   Numerous times today I heard people say how she was lately starting to blossom again, starting to dream again, and being so much more joyful and full of life.  She was becoming the friend we all remembered once again.  And this man put an end to that.  He stole a precious life away from us.

Even though I know that I will see her again in heaven, and there is comfort in that, there is a part of me – the very honest, human part – that is so angry that he could do that, would do that. The pain that he induced, in breaking her spirit while she lived and then ultimately taking her life, makes me so angry.

Statistics say that the most dangerous time for a woman who is experiencing domestic violence is when she leaves her abuser. Unfortunately, that was true in my friend’s case.  Her abuser walked away from his prison work release program, found her and shot her.

It’s not fair. She didn’t deserve this to happen to her; not any of it.  She was one of the most giving and decent people on the planet.  God had gifted her with a beautiful and precious spirit, and she shared that with so many people.  She was called an angel, disguised as a nurse.  I know we should be glad for the time we were able to spend with her.  I just wish it could have been longer.

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