“You’re a witch!” my coworker joked, leaning away from me and forming her fingers into a cross.

“Why?” I asked.

“You curse people!” she laughed.

I don’t curse people, of this I am sure, but something with uncanny timing happened this past Monday. Not until I was working through the news I had just been given did I realize how the moments lined up.

Monday, I was having lunch with a prospective employer, at an Italian restaurant she and her husband have recently purchased. Conversation floated between things having to do with the possible job position and personal chatting. As often happens with me, the death of my daughter came up while talking about who I am and my everyday life. The woman I was meeting with shared a story about the loss of her cousin and her cousin’s husband. Both killed in a crash.

She then said that she believes everything happens for a reason. Maybe, she continued, we don’t learn the reason until we’ve passed on.

I’ve explained, in past writings, how this belief doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve not found a reason that is adequate for me to accept that Becca had to be killed. But, this isn’t what this blog is about. This is about something completely different.

While we were talking about loss, and the belief that things happen for a reason, I said my relationship with deity/divine/universe was complicated. In explanation I said the words: Why did my beautiful daughter have to die yet my pedophile uncle is still alive?

Lunch finished, we said goodbye, and I was home by 2:30 Monday afternoon.

At 3:46 PM, my phone binged with the sound that indicates a message has been sent to me. I looked at it and the simple message, sent to me by my cousin, read:

“I’m only mentioning this in the chance it gives you peace. Teddy is dead.”

My initial thought was “it’s about damn time.” Then “good, he can’t hurt anyone else.”

I asked my cousin how he had died. Part of me hoped his passing wasn’t peaceful. When she told me he’d died of cancer “throughout” I felt satisfied. She also added the time at which he died, 1 PM that afternoon.

As I lay in bed, pondering how I felt about my abuser’s death, it dawned on me . . . he had died at nearly the precise time I had been talking about him and the questions I had surrounding his still being alive. I can not know if the two moments were lined up perfectly in space but I do know they had to be very close. Hence, the reason my coworker made the comment about me cursing people. I had commented right back to her: if only!! But, I am not sure the power to hex a person with death would be worth having. I wouldn’t want to have that ability.

But, Teddy’s dying brought up many other thoughts in the process of digesting his death. I feel cheated out of peering into his eyes, which look too similar to my own, and telling him that what he did to me over a seven year period, did not break me. He almost did. I nearly ended my life by hanging myself when I was just nine or ten. I was too short to get the rope over the rafter in our garage, thankfully. I survived. It affected so much of what I am and what I’ve done, yes, but I wanted him to see who I am now, in spite of his cruelty. Not only did I survive, I thrived.

His death also made me think about who gets into heaven.

A dear friend of mine, a mother who has known me since grade school and also lost a daughter, was the first to comment on the post I shared on Facebook calling the world a safer place in his dying. She said: Karma luv ❤ I hope it was painful. In another comment she said: You can be sure he’s not anywhere near Becca. A second commenter said: I hope his suffering never ends in hell. Both of these comments have stirred up what I believe about the afterlife.

My mother, who’s brother was Teddy, has said she doesn’t believe there is anything after we die. We merely cease to exist. After Becca was killed, she said she welcomed death, not because she would see her granddaughter again, but because her pain would be over. She would no longer think about Becca.

I can not believe there is nothing when we die. I think a commonality of belief among bereaved mothers is that our child still exists . . . somewhere (depending on what belief system they follow). Maybe having the belief that our child’s soul continues on is a necessity for us. I know it is for me. Otherwise, how could I continue to move forward?

Most religions have a concept of a hell. For some Christians, hell is a place in which souls are made to suffer for the acts they committed while on earth. I don’t think I share this belief. Instead, hell seems to be here, on earth. But, let’s say there is a punishing place after death. Is Teddy there? Will he suffer for eternity? Or, did he make it to heaven? To where I believe Becca to be. Is deity all forgiving? Are we all forgiving when we reach the next destination? Will Becca face my uncle, in my stead, and slap his face? Or will she hug him in total forgiveness? I don’t know. I won’t know until I’ve passed.

I do know this: the pedophile uncle that molested me for seven long years, who changed who I was supposed to be at a soul level, who handed me years of self hatred and shame and guilt when he slipped into my bed on the night’s he babysat us, is no longer drawing breath from the same air I breathe. And, I’m okay with that and wherever he ended up.

I feel lighter. Burdens that were not mine to carry fell away upon hearing the news of his passing. In the coming days, years even, I will struggle with and try to understand what all of this means.

Today, I am content he is gone.

I'm a mother, artist, and writer. A decade ago I lost my daughter. I find writing, and painting, heal me. Sharing my story of loss and healing lightens what I carry. And, hopefully, my words help another along the way.

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