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To My Kindred Spirit – A Lament. A Thanksgiving. (A Poem on Grief)

For those of you who who haven’t read my own story of grief, you can read it here. My Kindred Spirit was allegedly murdered last October. She was in an increasingly abusive relationship with her husband (we didn’t know it at the time). She’d changed so much that it actually pained me to see her, but I could never figure out why. Then she died, and the truth came out.

I began writing this poem to help process. I used Part I as inspiration for the memorial I read at her funeral. Part I is a celebration of her life. Part II is a lament for the way she lost herself inside an abusive relationship and her murder. Part III is a continuation of that theme, but an added layer of me wrestling with her brokenness (I had really, really looked up to her, and I went through this angry period where I just couldn’t believe she could fall like that and succumb to an abusive relationship). Part IV is me letting her go, making peace with her death, giving her over to God. I wrote this at various times over the last year. I will probably add to it in years to come.

I share this with you today…simply because I want to share it. There are so many emotions, so many ups and downs, captured in this writing. To anyone reading this who has experienced loss–maybe it will help you feel less alone. But again, this is my own process of grief, and so it is uniquely mine.

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To My Kindred Spirit—

A Lament. A Thanksgiving.

 

Part I.

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
*Rebecca, my Rebecca,
Where did you go?
Where did you go, my friend?

*

When we met, you were scintillating.
(A large word, a word only for you.)
But it’s appropriate.

*

You radiated the fullness of life and love.
(You and your family,
What a beautiful family!)
You showed me sincerity and genuineness,
shining from blue eyes the color of the sea
framed with hair as dark as the night.
You burst with wit and intelligence.
You wrote with concise beauty
(oh, to be half the writer you were someday!).

*

We became kindred spirits slowly,
as kindred spirits often do.
I saw you first at your house—
A warm house of the essence of family—
When all of us friends who were the same age
came over for homework.
I thought you were amazing.
(We all thought you were amazing.)
You were older than us.
You were a senior.
(In high school, older people don’t associate
with younger people.
It’s not cool.)
You didn’t care about being cool.
You just cared.
You loved all us younger girls.
You challenged us to think and be true to ourselves,
and you were true to you.

*

I never thought I had to pretend around you (or that group),
as I felt I had to do most of the time with others.
I could be my wild, winsome self.
and no one cared.
I could be my strange, thoughtful self
and no one judged.

*

Because I am strange,
and you were strange.
You and I were made of different stuff:
creatures with a bit of the mystic in us,
wild lovers of poetry and art and music,
deep thinkers who engaged the world in a
symphony entwined with both passion and reason.

*

That was you, friend.
And that was me.
We danced in fairy rings
and discussed philosophy and theology.
We were wild and free and deep.

*

You accepted me,
and in that acceptance,
you showed me God’s love.

*

My dearest friend,
that is the only reason I am a Christian today.
Because you (and our group) showed me Love.
True Love.
It changed my life.
It helped me begin to heal.
It gave me hope.

*

For that, I thank God.
Oh God, how I thank You!
I thank You, I thank You, I thank You.

 *

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
Rebecca, my Rebecca,
Where did you go?
Where did you go, my friend?

(11-6-12)

Part II.

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
Rebecca, my Rebecca,
Where did you go?
Where did you go, my friend?

*

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
But something changed about you in the last few years.
When I saw you, I knew something was different.
That freeness of spirit,
That joy for life was gone.
That deep care for others…gone.
You were absorbed in a world of your own making
Your own little world.

*

And I often wondered why.
I often felt a disconnectedness from you I’d never felt before.
As if you didn’t care anymore.
As if our lives were drifting apart.
I grieved this, Becca.
We were going separate ways.
You with your group of close-knit friends.
Strange friends, self-absorbed friends.
I didn’t understand them.
I didn’t understand how you yourself had gotten in with a clique.
You who used to love freely.

*

But I didn’t understand until It happened.

*

Your life was snuffed out.
Coldly, cunningly.
Made to look as if you took it.
But you didn’t.
It was inconceivable.

*

A monster subtly crept into your life.
A monster that clothed himself in garments of light.
And he stole you.
Slowly, subtly,
He stole you
As he masqueraded humility and godliness.
He saw your light, and he hated it because he was darkness.
The darkness always yearns to quench the light.
You were not of this world.
And he hated you.
The monster came,
And took you away
Piece by piece,
He ate you.
He warped you.
He changed you into a shadow of who you had been.

*

Oh Becca, I grieved that loss for years.
But I didn’t know the monster that lurked in the background.
I didn’t see the intentionality of it all.
All I saw was you vanishing.
Your radiant face replaced with a pale, lesser version.
Your intelligent eyes replaced with dullness.
Your sharp wit replaced with a shallow laugh.

*

You tried so hard to hide.
To hide the real you.
Because the monster wanted you a certain way.
And you were in love.
And what we women will do for love!
The love of a monster that will consume us in the end.
How many women have been consumed by love?

*

How I mourned!
I mourned every time I saw you.
A deep ache welling up inside
Because my kindred spirit was disappearing.

*

But I still didn’t understand that monster behind it all.
The monster that had come to steal, kill, and destroy
Because he couldn’t stand the beauty, light, love you represented.
All he saw was himself.
All he hungered for was his own enlargement, his own glory.
All he saw was something he could devour.
Many people he could devour.
And finally…he did.
He devoured you.
And you were dead.

*

My Kindred Spirit is dead.

*

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
Rebecca, my Rebecca,
Where did you go?
Where did you go, my friend?

(11-14-12)


Part III.

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
It has been three months since you died.
Three of the longest, hardest months of my life.
My feet have felt as if they were dragging through deep mud,
My back bent as if weighed down.

*

A few weeks ago, I almost lost hope.
I lost sight of beauty and light and love
And all I saw was darkness.
Because you’ve broken my heart.
And he’s broken my heart—the monster—
Because I looked up to you both so much.

*

Oh Becca, you were the older sister I never had.
The one I looked up to,
The one I longed to be,
The one I compared myself to so many times,
The one I could never, ever live up to.
You were smarter and more beautiful and more open and loving and dedicated
than I could ever hope to be.

*

Yet you fell!
You fell, just like that.
You walked into a monster’s embrace, and you didn’t see.
I don’t understand it.
I don’t understand how it happened—
How someone who hated deception
Was so deceived in the end.

*

You were too trusting.
You trusted in people.
Oh Becca, you walked in the shadow of a beast and you trusted.
You felt his wildness, and you stayed.
Because you were drawn to wildness.
You were drawn to abuse like a moth to light.

*

And his control over you grew and grew.
Oh Becca, I still can’t believe it.
I still can’t believe you didn’t fight it.
You didn’t stand up for yourself as you stood up for others.

*

Why did you lay down your life on the ground
And let him trample over everything?
Why did you cut out your heart
And hand it over to him willingly?
Why did you deaden your brain
And let him think for you?

*

Why, my Becca?
Oh why?

*

You were not infallible.
You were not perfect.
And so many put you up on a pedestal.
If only they’d let you be broken.
If only you’d let yourself be broken.
Then you might’ve healed.

*

But everyone was too busy idolizing and idealizing you and him,
Putting you and him in a place you both never should’ve been.
They needed heroes, and they forced you into a role you couldn’t play.
Because you were wounded and in need of medicine.
A wounded heroine in need of true companionship and sympathy.

*

My wounded friend, my heart breaks for you.
My Kindred Spirit, you were so alone in the end.
You thought you had to be alone.
You thought you had to fix it all,
Because no one could see the heroine fall.

*

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
Rebecca, my Rebecca,
Where did you go?
Where did you go, my friend?

2-12-13

Part IV.

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
Rebecca, my Rebecca,
Where did you go?
Where did you go, my friend?

*

It has been a full year since you died, Becca.
12 whole months.
These last 12 months have been some of the darkest months
I’ve ever walked through.
The evil and darkness have oftentimes almost overwhelmed me.
The monster’s shadow spread over us all,
casting us into despair of life and joy.

*

Yet Becca, I’ve had a deep and sudden realization.
I cannot let this grief destroy me.
I cannot let the evil that destroyed you destroy me, too.
The anger, the cynicism, the bitterness…
It almost devoured me alive this year.
But I cannot let it.
I cannot let the evil win.

*

And so, Becca, I bow.
I bow down to the Great God who sees,
and I rest in Him.
I know He is there,
I know He is listening,
I know He sees.
And I must rest in that knowledge.
He saw the evil,
He saw the monster,
and He was working all that time to free you, to free everyone.

*

Becca, I see you now.
I see you standing in the throne room worshiping with all your heart and soul.
I see you running along mountain valleys.
I see you wading in rivers of living water.
I see you exploring a vast and beautiful country.
I don’t have to worry about you.
I can rejoice with you.

*

Oh Becca, I miss you.
How I miss you!
And yet, I must now rejoice that you are free.
That you were rescued from the monster and will never be in his grasp again.
That no matter what anyone could do to you on earth,
it was only a passing thing.
Eternity swallowed up the agony
and gave you a weight of glory.

*

Your earthly vessel was shattered, yes,
shattered into a million little pieces.
But you awoke into eternity with vitality and grace.
You will never know pain or suffering again.
You will only run and worship and splash in the waters forever.

*

The Lord called your name,
and you awoke in green pastures and still waters.
You awoke to rolling hills and a city of precious stones.
And you heard Him call you,
and you knew your Shepherd’s voice.
You entered into the city and stepped into the throne room.
You entered in, and you were Home.
Home at last.
You’d found what you’d been searching for all your life.
Love.
The Love that you’d shown others,
You are now basking in forever.

*

Can I let you go?
Can I trust that this Love is now your Home?
Can I trust that you lived a full life, even if it was only 27 years long?
Can I trust that no matter the evil you faced, it passed away in the blink of an eye?
That the monster can never, ever touch you again?
Can I walk in this knowledge and be free myself?
Free to live,
free to rejoice,
free to sing an echo of your eternal song.

*

My Dear Kindred Spirit,
Rebecca, my Rebecca.
I know where you
’ve gone.
I know you are Home, my friend.

11-4-13

*Name changed for privacy.

  • http://aprilmilam.wordpress.com aprilmilam

    Haunting, vulnerable, and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      Thanks so much for reading it.

  • Jeanne

    Beautiful

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      Thank you, Jeanne.

  • http://stephaniecbarrett.wordpress.com Grandby

    Great words of during love and unimaginable grief, and anger at what happened to Becca. I have been there,
    with the death of a sister due to stress/abuse related cancer. My stone heart took many years to conquer my feelings. In the end a God of love showed me,,that the very brightest in this world, can be the most vulnerable. And we are not always able to prevent what we see before our eyes.

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      You are right when you say the very brightest in this world can be the most vulnerable. The best kinds of people trust because they are good, and they couldn’t imagine that others could be so selfish, so evil. The best kinds of people love and are loyal, and so often they attract people who want to use love/loyalty to their own advantage. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • http://Facebook Pamela, RN

    This poem about Becca and the steps of grief really spoke to me. I am still grieving over a divorce that happened 13 yrs ago. With divorce there is no closure. The poem about Becca spoke to me because I feel I am in an emotionally abusive and repressive relationship that is not that obvious to others. It is sort of an obscure form of manipulation that even I have trouble distinguishing–even with his denials and with him blaming my feelings on my depression. I guess I just want someone to know. Thank you.

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      Hi Pamela, I hope you will take the steps to get out of your abusive situation (unless you are talking about the divorce that happened 13 years ago). But if you don’t feel truly loved or listened to in a relationship, don’t feel crazy (he will make you feel crazy because he’s manipulative). Go to counseling. Seek help. Read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (or The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, if you’re not married) by Leslie Vernick. Very good books to help. Just remember that you are so valuable, and if a man is not treating you right, please take care of yourself. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Lauralea

    So good… You’ve really captured what so many of us have gone through over her death, and you’ve been so good at helping us through this. God has really used you Teryn to comfort the broken-hearted and help lots and lots of people in grief! Thank you for being open, for being willing to be used by God in such a difficult thing, for following through when it would be much easier to hide in personal journals… Love you

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      I’m so glad you could relate to it, Lauralea. I’m glad my writing can help us all process this evil and heartbreaking tragedy. Love you, too!

  • http://gravatar.com/danfrye39 danfrye39

    I facilitate a support group for families and friends of homicide victims. I found your blog through one of the members of my group who posted your 15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief article. This is a beautiful expression of your relationship with your friend. As a Believer, I think she knows every word you wrote. Teryn, your ability to share this is a remarkable ministry in helping anyone who has suffered a loss, especially those who have lost loved ones to violence. Thank your for your vulnerability. She is with Jesus, as is my father who was gunned down by young, rage-filled boys. The monster never wins when Jesus is there! Thank you!

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, I agree–I believe she is aware of everything I’m writing on her behalf. I’m so sorry to hear of your father. But it IS true–that nothing can truly defeat someone if they are in Christ. Even murder. Christ conquers all. Christ Himself was murdered, and He rose to defeat evil. I’m so glad my friend is now walking with Christ, healed and whole.

  • http://consecratadeo.wordpress.com consecratadeo

    Beautiful poem, Teryn. And its truth is part of its beauty. Thank you for sharing your gift.

    • http://identityrenewed.wordpress.com Teryn O’Brien

      Thank you.