Its been awhile since I’ve blogged. I don’t really have a good reason. Except I’ve realized how difficult the first few months of the year are for me. January, I am physically and emotionally preparing for February. February 5th is the last time I talked to my baby. February 6th, the anniversary of Aria’s death. February 13th, the anniversary of her funeral. Then its March, Aria would have turned 16 on March 21st. Then 3 weeks to the day of her birthday, is mine. Also, one of her best friends birthday as well. We share the same birthday. So, my experience thus far has been pure anxiety from Jan-April. In January this year, I did my YIPA training on Pre-Prevention for Suicide Intervention. Also, the Star Tribune article dropped. I did the Help A Human Out interview in March. Its been a lot. I’m trying to give myself some empathy for taking some time to recharge.
I’m pretty sure I mentioned this, but the Derek Chauvin trial has been particularly triggering for me. Eric Nelson, Derek’s lawyer, was my stepmother Amy’s lawyer. I had a very awful experience with Eric Nelson that triggers a lot of trauma that I have never really dealt with personally, prior to hearing he was defending Derek Chauvin.
My relationship with my family is stronger than ever, but I loathe Eric Nelson. He took relationships from me. He took trust I had in other people while pinning them against me. He took a sense of security with no remorse. No compassion of how the loss of those relationships could effect me and my 6 year old daughter. Every day I kept the TV off. We were so careful to make sure Aria didn’t see anything. At the end of March and early April of Aria’s first grade year, she started throwing up at school often. I thought she had the flu. I was convinced she didn’t know what was happening. There was maybe one instance I went to the bathroom and Aria was able to see my family and myself on the TV. After she passed, I found a letter she wrote in 1st grade that made it clear that she was very entuned to what was happening to our family.
I’ve been glued to the trial. Staring at his face and listening to his bullshit antics to defend that murderer has been extremely triggering. He is cut throat. He doesn’t care who he hurts or what BS defense he will come up with that potentially could invoke reasonable doubt. I’ve lived it. I fear it.
I believe that Derek Chauvin intentionally killed George Floyd. As good of a job as I think the State has proven that, I fear the system. I know that all Eric needs is one juror to have reasonable doubt, and Derek will walk free.
Most of you don’t know this but prior to losing Aria, my goal in becoming a social worker was to work towards criminal justice reform. Primarily, to change the system for drug offenses, school to prison pipeline, and how jail discriminates against black and brown people at a disproportionate level.
I will ALWAYS fight for that. It is at my core. It is a commitment I have made as an ally that will not go unheard. But, God and Aria have other plans for my voice, for now.
Now, back to Aria, the reason I live and breathe.
On Tuesday’s, I go and visit my dad. I bring him an early dinner and we talk about our week. We talk about sports, how each other are doing and whatever else is on the agenda. On Tuesday, February 16th, I was on my way to my fathers house when I was overcome by intruding thoughts,
” Mom, I have a sister.”
” Mom, you have to find her.”
” Mom, you need to know her, I have a sister, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom”
The thoughts were so intense, I had to pull over before I got to my dad’s. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I couldn’t make sense of it. All I could think of was that Rico’s ex before me had a baby that potentially was his.
The thoughts kept coming,
” Mom, I have a sister.”
” I have a sister”
It was making me hysterical. I had to know right there and then if Rico’s ex’s daughter was his. I had to know her if she was related to Aria. I was told years ago she wasn’t. Up until that point there was no reason for me to believe she was. I was completely blown away by these intense thoughts.
So, I reached out to a mutual friend of ours and asked. I was on the side of the road before I went to my fathers house. I was beside myself as I waited for her response. My dad is like a dog and can smell my emotion from a mile away. I needed to know before I walked into his house.
She responded quickly and confirmed that Rico was not the father of this beautiful young lady.
So, I let it go. I felt semi relieved and thought, “Maybe it was just my anxiety”
However, I had never heard a voice so distinctively take over my brain. I was semi haunted by it. I remember telling Nick when I got home,
” I think Aria has a sister.”
I let it go. Aria’s bday passed with little excitement because she’s not here. We celebrate her existence but it feels like any other day. Because she’s not here to celebrate with us.
As stated before, I have been glued to the trial. On Friday, April 2nd, I had the day off. It was the first day I decided NOT to watch the trial. My bday was a little over a week away. I planned on meeting my sister and best girlfriends for lunch/early happy hour to just chill for the first time in a long time.
My sister was driving as we were headed to Stanley’s in NE when I got a text from my mother.
” Do you recognize this guy?”
She sent a picture. It was clearly a shot from the witness seat from the Dereck Chauvin trial. I initially assumed he had something to do with Amy’s trial, I said, ” No”
Within 5 seconds I looked again and I felt my heart fall into my stomach.
I did know him, Lt. Richard Zimmerman.
He was the detective that came to my parents house the morning of Aria’s death.
He was so kind. He asked me if I had any reason to believe that Aria’s death was a homicide. Of course my answer was, ” No.”
He wore a long gray jacket, his hair identical to how he presented on the stand. His eyes full of sorrow and empathy in both scenarios. He handed us his card in case we needed anything and he left with my baby as they wheeled her away. I remember asking him to stay with her until she made it to the ME. I didn’t want her to be alone. He said he would………….
That was the last I saw of him until Friday, April 2nd.
I didn’t have the emotional space or the time to take in all of those feelings. I really wanted to enjoy that day with my friends. So, I brushed it aside.
We got to lunch, we all ordered a drink and an app. While sitting there we were waiting for my best friend. We knew she was going to be late. She called my sister and my sister answered assuming she was going to tell us she was on her way. It was clear the conversation got serious quickly. My sister said,
” Yea, she’s right across from me.”
” Are you sure it isn’t an April fools joke?”
” Ok, well, we are all here, just get here.”
At that point everyone at the table knew something was up. My sister said,
“Apparently, Rico posted something on Facebook.”
I thought, ” Oh shit, probably something about me being outspoken and blahdy blah blah blah.”
Everyone who knows me, knows I can’t keep my mouth shut.
She pulled up his Facebook and there was a picture of sonogram, with ” Its a girl, due 7/29″ above it.
I ran to the bathroom where I almost got sick.
Two heartbreaking blows on the exact same day. However, all I could hear was
” Mama, I already told you, I’m going to be a sister.”
I confirmed it with the Burches. Aria is going to be a Big Sister…………………….