My Life Remembered
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, youíll be among the stars!!" Thatís what I wrote on a Post-It note and stuck it on our computer at home. Who knew that I would be among the stars at the age of 20, but I am..... here is my story.
As you read my story, some of it might not seem very important, but I think you need to know me to know that I was not any different than anybody else.
When I was born, I had jaundice pretty bad. I had to stay in the hospital with special lights over me. They told my mom that she could go home, but she told them that if I was staying, then she was too. So they sent a special bed home and a nurse came twice a day to check on me. Before long, I was better. The bed was gone and life was good.
I had my birthday parties, the Easter bunny never forgot to hide eggs for me, presents on Valentineís Day, and dressing up for Halloween. Santa even made special appearances at my house, the latest one was a couple of years ago. (I think he was busy last year). Between my mom and dad, my family was big, no it was huge! So, as you can imagine, there was always some family function going on. Family was important to me. That would all change. Youíll see what I mean as you read on.
Iíve had pets for as long as I can remember. My first cat I bought with my own money when I was about three years old. Her name was Sassy; and you could ask anybody, that was an appropriate name. She loved me, but wasnít very fond of anybody else. Iíd come home after school, or whatever sport practice was going on at that time, and there would be Sassy waiting to curl up with me for our afternoon nap. I knew someday Iíd be cuddling with her again, just didnít think it would be this soon.
Iíve had fish, birds, and dogs too and always thought I had the weirdest pets. They made me laugh a lot. But Iíd have to say that Iíve always been partial to cats. My newest cat is Mystie. Unlike Sassy, Mystie loves everyone, especially our bird Squeaky (think sheíd like to know her better!).
My Social Life
Then, we have sports. I came from an athletic family. So naturally, it was in my blood and I started playing sports about the same time I started walking and never quit. Pee Wee ball turned into softball and as I grew, I got into volleyball and basketball too. But once I got the taste of basketball, it was all I wanted. I joined an AAU basketball team and we played a lot of travel ball. Thatís where I met a lot of my friends, friends that would stay with me forever; but those friendships would change too as time went on.
And, of course, we have school. I made good grades throughout school and was looking forward to college. I went to a catholic school, and when I transferred to a public school, I took a lot of advanced classes so Iíd be ready for college. I had the normal problems at school: thought a teacher didnít like me, but couldnít figure out why, procrastinated until the last minute to get assignments done, and dreaded getting out of bed to be there in time.
At our school, there was an Out West trip that you had to apply to be accepted because only a few were allowed to go. The trip lasted a month and we slept in little tents and showers were few and far between. I loved it! The trip was for school, and when we got back, we had to put together a book that we got graded on; and I got an A. It was a trip that Iíd never forget and a place I dreamed Iíd go back to... but that dream vanished.
So with a great family and friends there to support me in everything I did, how did my life take such a drastic turn?
My Life ...Turned Upside-Down
It all started right around the time of graduation. I met a guy, we started out as friends, and then we were a couple. He never came to the house to pick me up for a date and meet my parents like other guys I went out with. My friends hardly knew him, and they would tell me that they didnít feel really comfortable around him.
I had graduated and was off to college. I had been planning for this for what seems like forever. My cousin, which was like my sister and best friend wrapped into one, and I were going to be roommates. We had everything we needed for our dorm room and were on top of the world. That would change all too soon.
It started out good, but I didnít have a car at college so heíd have to come there to visit. He didnít get along with my college friends, so he would drive to school and pick me up and bring me back to his house where I would stay for what was supposed to be the weekend.
Things at school started going downhill. I had no way to get back and he wouldnít take me. He had school and work to go to and didnít have the time. Iíd have to call my parents to ask for a ride back. That was uncomfortable because they didnít approve of our relationship. But they would do it because it was my education and that was what was important. I could always count on them.
My grades started to suffer and I eventually withdrew from college. During all this time, my friends were calling to hang out, and I either ignored their calls or made up excuses why I couldnít go.
Time went on, more distance. All the stress was making me sick. I lost weight and was depressed. Then came the beatings and break-ups. Iíd come back home after being gone for days at a time and hide the bruises. The laughter would come back, the stress was gone, and food was good again. Like I said earlier, I made friends that lasted a lifetime and we would start hanging out again. Life was good.
How did I let myself get drawn back in? I didÖand the cycle started all over again. After the last beating that sent me to the hospital, I sat at home and told my parents it was over. I told my mom one day that I had finally had enough, and I was tired of being controlled and wanted my life back.
I enrolled back in a local university and got a job, one of many that I was made to quit. I never lost sight of the love that I felt from everyone close to me. I was smart. I knew right from wrong. I wanted to think that I could change him, that he didnít really mean to hurt me mentally or physically. I believed......I trusted......I was wrong...
Itís not easy for me to admit to anyone that I was making a mistake. But what 19-20 year old wants to think they donít have everything under control? Certainly not me. You hear that time cures all wounds. Well, months had gone by and I was still scared, but I believed...again.
Now Iím gone. Hearts are broken. Lives are changed forever, and Iíve left many with only memories. I thought Iíd have more time......I needed more time.....I had dreams......I died too young...
To be continued...
The consequences of domestic violence and/or dating abuse not only affects the lives of the victims, but also their family and friends.
Watch interviews of those who were closest to Heather, and hear their memories of a bright young woman who will always be remembered.