On Friday, February 15, 2019 at approximately 0330 hours, my beautiful cousin, MaryAnn, was violently taken from this world at the hands of her son’s father. The exact details of all that happened are only known by God and her murderer, but the effects of it all are known by so many who loved MaryAnn… namely, her 3 year old son. Words will never truly express how our hearts ache with this magnificent loss, yet it is our prayer that her death will bring life to others.
Let me start by saying this- loud and clear for the folks in the back- LOVE SHOULD NOT HURT! Simply put, love does not involve the use of physical, mental, emotional, verbal, or financial abuse. In fact, the presence of any of those means the unequivocal absence of love. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul so eloquently describes what love is and what it is not. I love how he begins by saying that love is “patient and love is kind.”
Were you wondering before? Well, wonder no more!
The statistics on the number of people (abuse does not just happen to women) who are affected by domestic violence is sickening. As I sat and processed my cousin’s murder, the statistic that 1 in 20 women die from domestic abuse began to ring a little too true. In the pull of a trigger my beautiful cousin had gone from being a success to a statistic. My cousin was that one.
Sadly, MaryAnn’s story is not where our family met domestic violence. My sister was a number, too. She was one who had been abused by her husband for the length of their marriage. She lived in the pain of her marriage while trying to wear a smile for the sake of her young daughter. She survived, and for that, we thank God.
My brother was also a statistic. He, however, was a statistic because he was the abuser. When alcohol hit his system he became momentarily impaired, mistaking his daughter’s mother for a punching bag and the source of all his problems. He beat her so often and so mercilessly that she could not see the help that we tried to offer her. We chose her safety over my brother every time but in the end, she chose her sanity and freedom over our help. She, too, survived. And we thank God.
But my cousin… my sweet cousin did not survive… and that hurts more than words will ever convey.
As I reflect on the life that we lost and the beautiful young life that remains through her son, my heart sheds bittersweet tears. Another black boy growing up without his parents. Another parent burying their child. Another broken person not getting the help that they so clearly need. A vicious cycle with no end in sight. My cousin desired love… but was instead met with hands of fury and destruction.
Obviously, I was not in their relationship. I do not know the truth that lived behind the doors of their home. I do not know what they both experienced throughout the duration of their relationship. But what I do know is that years of pain and anguish came to an end with the irreversible pull of a trigger.
Oh that you had showered me with the best of you, that I may have given you the best of me. Love me with your heart, dear lover; don’t love me with your hands.
I desired your love, I desired your passion. Instead you met me with your lust, you met me with your pride. You thought me an item, property that you could control… little did you know that I was a bird, free to fly and free to be. As we came to an end, I gained my wings and I will forever be free. I am forever free from you. The weight of the chains I bore now hold you captive. You are as you belong, yet I will pray for you; as I soar high, I will pray for your freedom. Oh that you had loved me.
Beloved, I need you to understand this one fact- a person can only show love through actions. Talk is cheap, but actions speak volumes. If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, I beg you to seek help! Unbiased, nonjudgmental help is available! Please, reach out to the resources listed below.