Living After Losing

  How one mother learned to live without her child.  

A domestic violence victim

by Glenda Barnett-Streicher

Travel is a part of my job responsibilities and my daughters, Rebecca and Lisa, were kept informed as to my agenda at all times. The week of November 4th, 2007 was no different than any other. I started out my Sunday at church teaching Sunday school to the youth and then as always, I made phone calls to all the family after church services ended. Becca came by to let me know she had to work at the art center that day. She was head of security at Frist Art Center after graduating from Draughons Junior College with a degree in Criminal Justice. She remained in school to obtain a degree in Para-legal Assisting. Little did I know that would be the last time I would see my beautiful daughter.

Becca was the mother of two children, Leslie now 24 and TJ now 26 (age 13 and 15 at time of her death). Becca had been estranged from her son for about three years and it didn’t appear they would ever make amends. From Leslie only a little over a year, but they were at least on speaking terms. Things don’t always work the way we want them to, but life deals us obstacles of all kinds and depths. Becca’s hopes had been that once she was out of school and had a full-time job she and Leslie could bet back together. You see she had already talked to me about leaving Jimmy. He had a history of not taking needed medications and she was getting tired of all the ‘misunderstandings’ he kept having.

I had gone about my busy week at a dialysis clinic in Shelby, North Carolina where my responsibilities were to evaluate, educate and educate some more. I loved visiting the mountains on crisp fall days when the sun was warm, the leaves turning golden colors, and of course a Carolina blue sky. Work had been going well that week and Friday was to be the day I returned home. Driving back to the hotel on Thursday evening I received a phone call from Becca. She often called me during the week just to let me know how her day was going. She had been promoted to security supervisor at the Art Center and had to fire her first employee this week – never a good thing. She talked about classes and work and about my job. She mentioned again that she was thinking about moving to Florida with her half-sister Rachel. She told me Jimmy had been ‘acting up’ and she dreaded going home. I encouraged her to just not argue, that if she needed to, just walk away from him. I apologized to her for not being able to let her come to the house and stay – you see she and my husband had a disagreement and she didn’t want to cause any problems between us so she wouldn’t ask for my help, yet she never failed to ask how Doc was when we talked. There was such softness in her voice as she drove home and we talked. Her final words to me were “I just wanted to talk to my mommy”. I assured her of the time I was to arrive home the next day and we said I love you and Wow-Wee, a term of endearment that I was taught to us by my mom as a child. If you hold your hand to your mouth and say wow wee it’s like getting two kisses.

My routine was to review notes from the day, plan my agenda for the next day, and watch a little TV then call it a night at about 11:00 pm. It was 1:05 am when my cell phone rang and at first I thought it was a sound from the hall way. When I answered the phone Jimmy’s brother was on the other end of the line. “Well he did it” that’s what I heard. I asked Thomas what he was talking about. “Jimmy did it, he killed Becca”. All I could say was Thomas this isn’t a good joke to play on any one. He told me that it wasn’t a joke that Jimmy had stabbed Becca and the paramedics were there. I told him I didn’t believe him to put someone else on the phone. After waiting a few minutes a young man came to the phone – I can’t remember his name but I remember him saying “we did all we could do, she died right away and didn’t suffer” and I hung up.

Then I’m not sure the exact order of things but I do remember saying “thank you God she isn’t hurting anymore and I called my husband and told him what had happened and to get to the apartment so she wouldn’t be by herself. I didn’t want her to be all alone. Knowing that never again would she be alone – she was with God now and would be happier than any of us. Then I reflect and realize how ironic it was that the one person who was angry with her and had trouble forgiving, was the one I had to call on to be with her until I got home - Doc. I walked around the room for awhile as I started to toss things into my suitcase. My thought was that I would drive from Shelby to Nashville and I could be home in about 8 hours. Not real smart since I had only had about two hours of sleep. I called the Area Operations Director and told her I wouldn’t be in for the meeting the next morning and after taking a deep breath all I could say was one of my daughters been murdered.

Yes I cried and I prayed, God had my baby now and I knew He would get me through – that is all that could get me through. I thought about Becca getting me back in church and that the last place I saw her was church. That became my focus, what God had done for me, for her, and the guidance He would give me moving forward. I don’t remember feeling hatred for even a moment and maybe that is because I knew Becca was with God. And hatred causes bitterness, I didn’t feel bitterness I felt relief that Becca no longer had to suffer pain, anguish, or fear.

I went out into the hallway and to the front desk to let the clerk know Jan was coming and to please let her in. With a questionable look on his face he of course wondered why someone was coming in at that time that wasn’t a registered guest, so I explained. As Jan arrived at the hotel at 2:00am she told me she had changed my flight to 8:00am and she stayed with me until time to drive to the airport. I made the necessary calls to my daughter Lisa who was on the line with Doc, to my preacher, to my boss and then to Tim the father of Leslie and TJ. What I didn’t consider was the hour, but then who thinks about time when your child has just been murdered. I questioned was she cold, who was there, what were they doing, and if I could see her when I finally arrived home? I started putting the time factor together and what the time of death was.

It seemed like forever before I got to the airport, and now I had to wait to get on the plane. Sitting at the gate the tears came again, what was I going to do without Becca? She was the one who held my hand in public, told me she loved me, would lay her head on my lap when she came over, call me just to say “how are you today mom I was thinking about you”, and the one who was there for me when no one else was. Lisa was my independent, strong daughter who showed little affection but when she did you knew it was genuine. Those girls were so very different and so loved by me they would never know how I ached for their approval, to know that in spite of all the mistakes I made when they were growing up how very much they were loved. I so wish they could have been closer. Now that would never be possible. Becca had always wanted her sisters’ love for just being her sister and not have to feel Lisa was always the prettier and the more popular.

Finally the plane was here, the gate attendant told the stewardess my situation and they boarded me first, a seat by myself. As we took off and I saw the beauty of the sky and the clouds a peace came over me like I had never felt. I flew all the time, but this time was different. Becca was in those clouds, dancing, singing, free of pain, free of fear, and loving God more as that love warmed my very heart; God touched my very soul to let me know everything would be okay. And I never felt a moment of doubt.

The celebration of life showed me how truly loved my daughter was. I would never have known all the people whose life she had touched otherwise. The little church we attended had standing room only. Sure, I know the people from my work were there to support me, but the people from her school, her jobs, and just friends. It made me as proud as a mother to know my daughter was loved by others. Lisa was there, Rachel was there (Becca’s half sister) and all my family. Lisa reminded me of a song they had played on the piano when they were growing up – HE. A friend found the CD and over nighted it to me so it was the closing song of her celebration. It is so true HE has the power to help us over come even the saddest of situations. That is where my strength now came from. It was there before but progressed now so that as a result of Becca’s death I would show my strength thru God. Share that faith and devotion to all who would listen and share all symptoms of domestic violence, so others would not have to lose daughters, friends, and loved ones to something so very senseless.

So now 521 weeks and 6 days or many would say 10 years after the murder of Becca, God remains the strongest factor in my survival, allowing me to share my story and my faith in Him to persevere in the darkest of days. The trial in man’s court has Jimmy serving a sentence of 40 years for taking Becca’s life and some day he must face God, the true judge. Jimmy may find peace with God and himself someday, as I must pray for all sinners to do. God looks after our loved ones no matter where they are, no matter what we are going through, NEVER are we alone and sometimes we forget that important fact. We have our families and friends on this earth, but we have spiritually the love and protection of God who never leaves our side. Anger – never there, sadness – sure I miss Becca and have moments of tears, of missing, but above all else my faith is strong and I know the day will come that I will be in our heavenly home and see her again. So now my ‘Living after Losing’ becomes doing what God leads me toward. By sharing my story of faith and strength may others know the love of God and the need to fight the cycle of domestic violence, the death of my daughter has purpose, to believe that one person may be saved from violence or better yet one person will find God makes me smile as the warmth is in my heart daily.

Home Safe is just the place to reach out to in this community to find the support, to find the counseling needed, to find the education and the people who care about others. Whatever you can do to help ensure your own friends or family have what they may need, you should do. Volunteer to be on a committee, talk about your story if you have one, and donate so the organization can be there when needed. We can all take a part. Will you?

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Posted by Lisa Kreider on 13-Nov-2017 at 09:33:46 EST

Glenda, you are so strong. Thank you for all the work you and Home Safe do.