There Are No Words

candlelight vigilYesterday my husband and I buried our good friend, Mei Kum Jones.

On either side, we also buried her twin baby boys, Colt and Cameron, who would have turned one today. It was unspeakably difficult on many levels.

A week ago,  my closest friend called me from her home in Arlington and asked me to confirm Mei’s address. Not one for sensationalism, this friend told me nothing had been finalized yet but that a family of four was reported dead at that address, which was just around the corner from her house. This information was both shocking and chilling and since I was behind the wheel of my car at the time, I called my husband.

After all, if it hadn’t been for Mei, my husband and I might never have met at that fateful Christmas party 13 years ago.

Mei was the one who got him off the couch and into festive attire then drove him downtown to attend the party. DH very much attributes our life today to Mei. She was his friend first and mine primarily by default of gender and marriage.

DH attended Mei’s first wedding, then later she attended ours. A few years ago she married her second husband, Scott Jones. No one attended the private ceremony.

Last week, Scott killed his wife and two baby boys, then he killed himself.

Grief is a strange journey. It washes over you like a wave and carries you deep out to sea. Then it leaves you there, bobbing in isolation until the power of healing comes along and throws out a life buoy.

For me, Facebook was the first buoy. From a short status update about loosing a friend last week came floods of replies from friends near and far. Words of compassion, words of hope, words of friendship, words of comfort. But among all the words came the single most repeated response: “there are no words.”

No words to offer true comfort to us in our time of loss. No words to describe how people were feeling about this terrible tragedy. No words to share a level of empathy sufficient to alleviate our pain. No words to define the horror that had taken place in Mei’s home. No words to say how very sorry people were that this happened to someone we knew.

This is the stuff of the 10 o’clock news. The sort of thing people hear about but rarely come to know intimately.

As details came out to the public, police described the cause of Mei’s death as strangulation. They said both babies’ throats had been cut and that Scott had used a knife on himself. As a mother and a wife, these images continue to haunt me every time I close my eyes. Who could do something like that to people he loved? Who could kill his own babies?!

It’s a horrific end to any life and it’s been really hard for DH and me to get our minds around. But over the course of the past 7 days, details about Scott have come out that start to paint a picture of mental instability. Authorities have concluded that something inside of him snapped.

Today, we paid our final respects at three open caskets. Two of them inconceivably small. Colt and Cameron lay on their white pillows as if gently transferred there by loving arms after falling asleep in their high chairs. Their cheeks were round and full and their downy, baby hair begging to be touched.

Mei, on the other hand, looked nothing like we remembered. Her face was sallow and pained, her hands were bony and thin. There was nothing peaceful about her laying in state.

In life, Mei was always elegant, put together, glowing, immaculate. In death, we hardly recognized her.

A family member later told us that Mei had apparently suffered a great deal of trauma in the final moments of her life. Perhaps more than the idea of these three lives ending so prematurely, I am haunted more deeply by the domestic violence that lead to the result.

As we enter into this Thanksgiving holiday, my heart aches for Mei’s family and their deep and tragic loss. I also am reminded to be more poignantly thankful for the many blessings in my own life.

I am thankful for a loving husband, who I know will always be there for us and protect us.

I am thankful for two beautiful children, upstairs in their shared room, no doubt, drooling on their pillows as they sleep.

I’m thankful for the healing of compassion and the many notes, calls and messages DH and I have received this week.

I am thankful for the sense of closure a funeral brings to those grieving any loss.

I am thankful for the power of laughter and the value of friendships when times are tough.

I am thankful for ceremonies, and paying respects and the way that grieving reaches deep down inside of you and flips on the heightened awareness switch reminding you to take care of your precious gifts.

But most of all, I am thankful that Mei, who wanted to be a mother more than just about anything else in life, got a chance to be that to two beautiful babies. And I find solace and peace knowing that, despite 42 years of living without that label, she lives on in all of our hearts memories as Colt and Cameron’s mom.

May you rest in peace, Mei (1970-2013), Cameron and Colt (2012-2013).

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18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. slightlywonky
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 08:29:52

    So poignant, Kyla. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this horrific crime. You write so beautifully.

    Reply

  2. Sarah B
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 08:35:24

    There are no words, and yet you use yours so beautifully. May you always find a buoy when needed.

    Reply

  3. Susie Newday
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 09:09:07

    Big big hugs.

    In Judaism, we have a seven day mourning period called shiva, where the spouse, children, parents and siblings of the deceased sit and people come in and out of the house to come and comfort them.

    Talking about the deceased during that period has an amazing cathartic effect. There is a customary phrase said when you say goodbye to a mourner during the shiva. “May God console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” There is also another phrase said by the sefardi sect of Jews “May you be comforted from the heavens.” I have come to believe that that phrase does not refer only to God comforting the bereaved but also that the bereaved themselves try to comfort those mourning them.

    So Kyla, may all those who loved your friend and her children be comforted not only by God but also by your friend and her children. May they be embraced and wrapped in love and peace.

    And may you and your loved ones know no more pain.

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      Nov 26, 2013 @ 17:39:28

      Wow, how evolved Jews are. This experience has taught me the healing power of mourning together. Thank you for explaining Shiva to me, Susie. When I loose a family member (in the inevitable future), I hope people will come sit Shiva with me.

      Reply

  4. Mari
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 09:38:32

    Thank you, Kyla, for articulating the unimaginable. I have had nightmares prompted by this tragedy so I cannot even fathom what you and your family are going through. Mei was someone I would have loved to get to know better but it just never happened. I am so glad she got to be a mom and so sorry that her life ended in such a horrific manner.

    Reply

  5. Stu
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 15:04:22

    Very well done and thank you. I met
    Mei years ago through work. Beautiful, smart, always smiling. That’s how I will remember her.

    Reply

  6. lisakeys64
    Nov 26, 2013 @ 19:10:05

    Gone too soon, I hope you continue to be inspired by Mei thereby celebrating her life for many days to come

    http://www.goodgriefcook.com

    Reply

  7. Wall Street Mama
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 07:16:02

    Tragic and devastating. There are no words. However, you so eloquently paid tribute to a beautiful friend and mother of two. We can only ask why? And we will never be able to comprehend why anyone who loves their children could ever harm them. I pray for your courage to get through this hard time and send you the biggest hug. Such a sad story…..

    Reply

  8. Maman Aya
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 07:55:18

    Beautifully written and horribly tragic. May you find comfort in your memories and in each other. Sending hugs.

    Reply

  9. IfByYes
    Nov 27, 2013 @ 19:42:41

    I can’t even imagine what you must be going through, the horror and the heartache. I wish I could change it. It hurts so much to know there is pain like this in the world. I’m so sorry.

    Reply

  10. Salma
    Feb 11, 2014 @ 09:58:45

    Kyla, I am so sorry to hear the news. Oh my goodness. May they find rest.

    Reply

  11. Trackback: Out of the Weeds | Growing Muses

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