Elegy for a forever 30-year-old, on the occasion of her 31st birthday, March 2, 2016.
I’m very touched by your presence tonight, and emotional because my daughter is dead, there is nothing I can do to bring her back, and this is her birthday. She would have been 31. Normally, I would just open my mouth and regale you with whatever words and happy memories spilled out of my mouth. I can’t, not now. Drowning in sorrow and choking on grief are no longer cliches to me. Please bear with me as I read, for the first time in my life, a prepared speech.
Most of you know that Anne-Christine worked here shortly before her murder. She loved working at Boondoggles here in El Lago, and she especially loved being by the water.
So I would like to give thanks tonight, especially to Gretchen and the Boondoggles powers-that-be for giving us this private room for her birthday party. Gretchen also decorated.
If you’re enjoying yourself tonight, you can thank Roni, Jen and Laura for planning this event. We’re also using this occasion to create a scrapbook and share memories on video for her two boys.
It’s really all about them now, about preserving memories of joy and love that might offset the terrible years ahead when Google becomes more intriguing to Julian than Wasabi Production videos on YouTube.
What you say or write tonight isn’t just for an inconsolable 10-year-old. It’s for the 20-year-old man he will become, or the 30-year-old father who will try to glean everything he can from our memories to gain some sense of the beautiful, vibrant mother ripped from him by the stepfather who once gave him superhero glasses for his birthday. And what you give Julian you also give to his younger brother with autism, whose face lights up when his brother walks into the room.
This morning, I received a text from my sister Jeanie in Chicago. It reads, “I always thought it appropriate to wish the mother happy birthday, since she was the one giving birth. The happy part is hard now, but no one can ever take away her birthday. It’s hers and yours forever.”
March 2 is now yours, too, as well as hers. As you grow older and we drift or move away, always remember that Texas Independence Day is also Honoring Anne-Christine Day.
Whose side are you on?
Almost two weeks ago, as Anne-Christine’s friends and supporters began arriving outside the 212th Court in Galveston, I am told that Shaun Hardy’s world-famous defense lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, was walking around the corridor, shaking hands with several, and asking them “which” side they’d be sitting on for the bond-reduction hearing.
When I apologized for this stunt on Facebook, one commentator suggested she would have told him, “the same side you’d be sitting on if a monster stabbed your daughter in the heart.”
I don’t know how the law really works or ruthless defense attorneys think, but I hope everyone in that courtroom Feb. 21 intuited by your presence and solidarity with me, there is only one side in dometic violence. The victim’s.
In the weeks before her death, Anne-Christine reached out to domestic-violence support experts. She’d made an appointment to go to Bay Area Turning Point in Webster, and she asked me to drive her there. I think I levitated off my patio seat, giddy with relief and joy that someone might finally put an end to the six-year reign of terror she suffered and we endured.
Then, she canceled. Shaun told her he had cancer, and the rest is international media-sensation history.
Making sense of domestic violence
Sometime in the very near future, in open court, we will learn the horrific details of that night in League City. Some of the evidence may come from the very texts she sent many of you, warning of erratic behavior and violent threats.
There is no way to make sense of any of this. A police homicide detective (not from League City) warned me it is better to try not to get inside a monster’s head — because then he’s in yours.
But I would like to use her birthday to help us try to make sense of a senseless death. To help us understand, better, the world of a domestic violence victim. To identify warning signs, to follow best practices when helping people like Anne-Christine survive, and eventually to escape, their circumstances.
We’ve all spent countless hours of what-ifs, and if-onlys. The blame game.
Tonight, we have an expert in domestic violence here to help us at least try to understand a little about women who stay with the men who beat them…..please welcome….