Robbed of all the tomorrows she undoubtedly dreamed of.
She was so young then, probably around twenty-six. I remember thinking how sweet she was. When she saw me at church she would always say hi. She was just that way. She became a new mom while I knew her. She was thrilled.
After a time, the area we lived in exploded with new housing and the ward we attended was split. Rebeca was assigned to attend a different ward. Facebook didn't exist then, so we lost touch. I guess I didn't really think anything of that. I mean, people come and go in our lives.
I moved to Richland in the years after we lost touch. She became a mother two more times. She also went through a painful divorce. It wasn't Rebeca's desire, nor her fault, but having gone through a divorce myself, I know how lonely it can feel. I can only imagine how lonely it must have been for her during that time. I wish I had been there for her.
In the years after her divorce Rebeca looked for love and acceptance in a relationship, as we all do. One man she had a relationship with was abusive and would be the man to rip her from this world.
I went to Rebeca's viewing yesterday. She lay in her casket as lovely as the last time I saw her. Her mother embraced me and took me close to where Rebeca lay. She showed me pictures of her cherished daughter smiling, embracing her sons. Living. She hugged me and told me how much she loved her daughter. Her father's eyes filled with tears as I told him my memories of Rebeca. Her kindness. Her friendship. He hugged me tightly. I felt his loss. So much loss
Among the sadness I was feeling during my day I was also looking for a distraction. I read a blog article someone posted, by Elyssa Andrus, entitled "Because I said so: The end of the make-believe Supermom". After reading it I challenged all the moms I know to post a picture of the messiest room in their home and dispose of the need to appear always put together all the time. I was surprised at how many women actually posted pictures. The first brave posters made it easier for later posters to be brave
and put their pictures up too.
As more pictures popped up I started to realize something, and this connects to Rebeca, so hang in with me. As one woman would post her picture, other women would gain the courage to do the same. In a small way, these women were doing for each other, in spirit, what I wish I could have done for Rebeca. They were showing hidden parts of themselves and helping each other see that it's okay not to be perfect. It's okay to be flawed. To just be you. And that is what I wish I could have done for Rebeca. I wish I could have shown her something I keep hidden and told her how strong I knew she was and that she would be okay.
verbal abuse and small acts of betrayal. In spite of this, I married him in January of 2003. Yep. I married a guy who was abusive to me. Because I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be needed. I didn't feel okay just being me.
It didn't take long for the verbal abuse to take a turn for the worse. He called me names I choose not to repeat. He screamed at
me. Threatened me. And then one day two and a half months into the marriage, he did what I should have predicted, but didn't want to believe he was capable of. He attacked me physically. Slammed me up against the island in our kitchen with his hands around my throat, cutting off my air supply for a few seconds. Then he slammed me up against a wall. The look in his eyes told me that if I didn't get away, he was going to kill me. All six of our kids, my two and his four, were in the house. That didn't matter to him. He was full of rage and hate toward me. He was going to kill me.
I don't know how, but I got away. Got my two sons and fled. I would have taken his children with me, but he threatened to tell the police I kidnapped them. My boys and I ran for our lives. A few days later I moved back home with my parents, divorced him as soon as I could and over time put my life back together. I was fortunate. I knew he was capable of murder. He even told me over the phone that I was lucky he didn't kill me.
Years later, my prediction that he was capable of killing came true. He committed suicide in 2012 in a horrendous way. When I heard the news I was relieved. The fear in the back of my mind that he would show up one day and try to hurt me again finally
And now, I am mourning the loss of beautiful Rebeca and feeling that if only I had stayed in contact with her, I could have
told her to get away from that guy. That she didn't need him to be whole. That I had done it and I knew she could too. Like my brave friends who made it easier for other woman to be brave and post pictures of the messy rooms in their homes, I could have made it easier for Rebeca to see that she was brave and didn't need an abuser to feel loved. That she was okay just the way she was. Although she did eventually break up with him, it was too late. He took her away.
For the record, I love good men. My brother and my father are two amazing men. I work with good men and go to church with good men. I'm raising my two sons to be amazing men, and they are amazing young men now, by their own choices. So I have nothing against men. I just have a lot against abusive men.
I want any woman who can read, EVERY woman who can read, to share this with all the women in their lives.
Because even if you're not in an abusive relationship, chances are you know someone who is. Maybe a sister, your mother, or a friend. Maybe a young lady out there who hasn't yet had a serious relationship needs to hear that she is okay just the way she is and that if a man, any man ever treats her in a way she feels is abusive, she needs to get away.
I wish I could have found Rebeca, wrapped her in my arms and told her she was okay. Told her she was beautiful and strong and good and that I was here for her. But I didn't know, and maybe you don't know if one of your friends or acquaintances is
being abused by the man in her life. So, please share MY dark secret, because I don't want to lose any more beautiful women.
In honor of my beautiful friend Rebeca Van De Venter, please. Here is my messy life so that other women will feel brave enough.
I know this hasn't been the cheeriest blog post to read. It wasn't easy to write. But again, in honor of Rebeca. I miss you friend. Until we meet again.
Peace and Blessings,