My husband and I sat in a courthouse, surrounding a family and community who lost their two year old daughter, granddaughter, niece and sweet little angel- Reagan Williams- to shaken baby syndrome at the hands of a man who sat on trial. Yesterday was the sentencing hearing for the man's crimes of killing this precious baby.
I am going to bring you this message in the best way I know how, because at the moment I am so emotionally broken for so many reasons.
Reagan's life was short- too short, and in the 2 1/2 years she had on this earth, she endured the best of both worlds. She got to know the unconditional love of her father's family, and yet lived in the fear of the custodial home she knew. She never had the chance to go to her first day of school, her first dance, her own graduation. She will never see the love of her life waiting at the end of an aisle for her in candlelight. Her life was tragically taken at the hands of someone else. Someone who lived in the home with her and was supposed to protect her. But she never got that protection.
Her natural father and his family tried to pull her out. They tried to give her safety, protect her. But the nature of our overloaded courts and family protection services were too busy to take responsibility for this little girl in need of help.
And they were wrong not to help. In their busyness, they turned little Reagan away, even though there were pictures and evidence of prior abuse. Their hearts should feel just as responsible as the man who created the fear and ultimately the end of Reagan's brief life.
So many of us have felt the effects of abuse in our own lives. Maybe we grew up with a father, grandfather, uncle, or even a stepmother who beat us, molested us, broke us. Maybe we have had boyfriends, husbands, ex husbands, who chewed up what little hope we had and threw it on the floor, along with our hopes, dreams, and self esteem, making our home a place that was void of safety and comfort.
I am here to tell you today that we are the lucky ones.
We made it out alive.
She wasn't able to be a screwed-up adult because of abuse, like the rest of us. She wasn't able to gain a ton of weight, thinking that if she was fat or ugly her abuser would leaver her alone. She never told herself while looking in a mirror "you are worthless" because someone told her that's what she was.
Instead, there is no longer a reflection in the mirror for her to see.
See, kids, yesterday, sitting in that courtroom, hearing that the man who killed Reagan was only getting 7 years in prison and screaming at the injustice- I realized something. I can no longer use my fears from my past to dictate my future. My fat has been my safety for far too long. I used it as a shield, protecting me from the bad things in life. No one could really get close to the person I am if I remain attached to my fat. No one would hurt the innocent child who didn't understand what was happening to her because fat made you ugly, and if you were ugly, no one would want you. Those are the thoughts that kept me alive, that gave me a chance at normalcy in life. The thoughts that keep holding me back from heading into a land that I have never known as an adult. The land of Skinnydom.
I know that if I keep hanging on to the fat- the emotional ties that binge- I will never have the opportunities in life that I deserve. That Reagan deserved. She deserved so much more than she was given, and yet I look at my own life and see the things I have squandered. I have selfishly thrown away chance after chance to change, because of my own fears of being hurt.
So as this year begins to draw to a close, I feel there is nothing left for me to do but be forced to shed all my feelings of inadequacies, fear, hopelessness. I made huge strides with my weight in 2009. But in 2010, it is time for me to do things as an adult I never thought I would. Take risks, live life to the fullest. Really really really work towards my goal of 100 pounds and become a survivor. A living breathing survivor who made it out, and helps others break free too.
When it is all said and done, Reagan's killer will be in prison about the same amount of time that Reagan was alive. A mere 2 1/2 years, thanks to our injustice system. I can't take on legal battles to correct that wrong. What can I do to help? Me? A mother, a wife, a writer and professional dieter?
What I can do is step up to the plate, embrace my kids, love my husband, and not let the after effects of my past abuse hold me back any longer. Those emotions can't tie me down. Not for one more day. I've got the answers to my unanswered questions, at last. And I saw them in the eyes of this little girl.
Reagan only got 2 1/2 years. But my own fears and past hurts have held me back for over 20 years. Yesterday I was filled with sorrow about that fact. Today- I am determined that I won't let it happen ever again. And it's time that life is embraced for all that it is. The wonderful joy of living every day to the fullest, to it's full potential, and not letting my yesterdays loom over and dominate my todays. I'm breaking free from my fear and my fat.
So today, I say with absolute confidence that I will live life like it should be. With the faith and hope of a child. Reagan and me. One in heaven, one nothing more than a broken child at heart. Both of us safely in the arms of our Jesus, where we can't be hurt like this ever again. Bound forever in the throws of an ineffective courtroom where Reagan couldn't be saved, and I got my first taste of freedom.
Reagan, sweet darling, you have rescued me. Your short life has forever changed mine. And when I get to heaven and see your precious face, I am going to throw my arms around you, lift you up in the air, and thank you for what you have done.
You may be gone, but your memory is far from over. You have given birth to new life, little one. Thank you.
So today- is for Reagan.
If you would like to know more about Reagan and the foundation her family has started on her behalf, please visit Reagan's Rescue for more information.