Free Bird

For Kay, always & forever.

{The free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips his wings in the orange sun rays and dares to claim the sky}—-Maya Angelou

“I know what’s different about you,” I say to my sister on our last walk on the Waterfront trail.
“What?” She smiles with those big pink lips, those kind of lips women envy, those Angelina Jolie lips.
“You don’t need me like you used to. I like that. I like that you’re finally sliding into your own skin. When do you sign the divorce papers?”
“In a couple of weeks.” She says.

My heart leaps, because I know she’s finally going through with it, finally going to liberate herself from him, break out of her cage.
One cannot fly inside a cage.
She skips ahead of me.
Her long brown hair flowing behind her like a kind of freedom. I can literally see it, feel it, visualize her sitting on her rose colored couch, feet up, diet Coke by her side, watching True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Twilight, or some kind of peculiar show on her television. She loves that kind of stuff.

“It’s romantic, Kimmy!” She’d say to me.“I can’t wait to start my own life!” She squeals. “Hurry, get over here and grab my hand.”

When we were little, I used to hold her hand walking across the small street by our house on 61st and eighth. We’d walk five blocks to Bridgeman’s to buy ice-cream cones, or should I say, I’d buy the ice-cream cones with my babysitting money. We never altered our flavors: mint chocolate chip for her and strawberry for me. It seems I was always taking care of her in one way or another.

That is— until the end.

We pray right there in the middle of the trail.
We pray for transformations and smooth departures.
We pray for still waters and flourishing futures.
We even pray for him, her abuser and isolator.

From the beginning, we felt sorry for him, made excuses for him, tried to love him, save him. Nobody. Absolutely NOBODY can be saved unless they want saving. I understand that now.

It’s heartbreaking, unimaginably sad to say, but my sister never got the chance to sign those divorce papers.
Her soon to be ex-husband murdered her two days after that walk.

We were going to have a surprise shower for her. A “New Beginnings Shower.” Candles & Cosmopolitans. Salsa & Sangria. Sushi & Sex and The City. We were going to fill her new home with so much love that she would drown inside of it, swallow it whole.

We talked about painting her living room funky colors like bubblegum pink, lemony lime, and soft caramels and merlots. We talked about hanging silver and bronze pans from her kitchen ceiling because she’s always wanted to do that. We talked about her goals, aspirations. For example, she wanted to go back to school to receive her RN degree.

None of that happened.

I received the call at 5:15 PM. “did…d-did you know the police are surrounding Kay’s house…Did you know Mike killed Kay?

He left work early on May 26th.
He said he had business to attend to, appointments to keep, phone calls to make.
He sat in the living room like a demon-devil.
He was never a man, so I shall call him “The murderer.” After all, that is what he became in the end.

The Beretta pistol was so minuscule, the murderer could conceal it easily inside the palm of his hand.

I imagine he rubbed the iron between his fingers anticipating her absence, his absence, his final control. I imagine he tasted the metal upon his toxic tongue. I presume he was prepared to go straight to HELL.

My sister arrived home from work at about 4:45 pm.
Her routine was simple, and apparently, knew every second of it.
She’d change from scrubs to walking clothes, hoist her hair in a high ponytail. She’d call our dad to meet her on the Waterfront Trail.

He had already locked the front door so she couldn’t escape, couldn’t open her cage.
Perhaps he uttered a prayer to whomever murderers utter prayers too. Perhaps he gave last rights to himself, took communion, had a last meal, said goodbye to his mother, brother, sister, children, the cats.

I often wonder why God didn’t intervene, why He’d allow the cage to remain closed.

There were two options. She stayed with him, or she died with him.

He placed the gun to the back of her head as she stood in the hallway trying to turn the knob. I know this is true because this is where her son found her when he returned home from school.

He shot once…twice…a third time.

He had to make damn sure she never gained consciousness, had to make certain she couldn’t fly away or tell somebody what he did.
He then wrapped his arms around her like a poisonous snake, the devil himself, and shot himself in the right temple.

I asked my husband a few months later, “Did he really kill Kay? Did this really happen?” You see, I couldn’t understand how I was able to continue walking, breathing, and living when I fell into the ground with her. This awareness was unfathomable, mean, insidious implausible.

In my dreams, I see my sister flying through blue air. I run to her, kiss her cheeks, ask her where she’s been.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were leaving?” I ask. “Why didn’t you bring me with you?”
Her smile spreads over the entire space. A massive pink sun. A bird spreading its wings.
When I attempt to take her hand, I can’t reach it.
She’s already flying away.

Please don’t wait if you are being abused physically, emotionally, verbally, financially, or sexually. Tell somebody. Anybody. TODAY. Silence KILLS. Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline TODAY: 1-800-799-7233


Photo Credit: Live to Create Photography Flickr via Compfight cc

  1. You bring love and hope in the times of terrible darkness to so many, my friend. I love love love your voice. That you can do this and be here, to remember the moments of the last days, to remember to tell people to look out for the devil who has a sweet voice… LOVE YOU SO MUCH. And thank you. You’re doing such important work.

  2. Susan,
    Kay has 3 sons.
    They are all dealing w/ their mom’s murder in diff. ways. ( and the legacy their so-called father left )
    One never recovers…Only continues living the best way one knows how.
    Thank you for reading, dear. x

  3. Tears of anger and grief are streaming down my face. My very being rebels against the evil of the murderer. My heart hurts for your entire family and for the loss of a beautiful soul, your darling Kay.

    I am so sorry, Kim.

  4. I get goose bumps, chills and angry. When I read your words I tear up thinking of the murderer and what he did to your sister. Keep telling Kay’s story and with every poem, essay and article you write you are saving someone. You are setting someone free.

  5. My dearest Kim, thank you for sharing this heart wrenching story with us. My head hangs in grief at the telling of it. I am with you forever in trying to give voice to all of those who are voiceless. Bless you my friend.

  6. Ah Miss Kim, as always I discover new nuances to her story! I love that her last days were freedom days, thst she had a taste of it and was joyous about it. I suspect she never knew anything but that taste of freedom.

  7. A heart-rending story as always, Kim. Thank you for sharing it, and I hope it motivates someone else to do whatever it takes to escape an equally awful situation. Hugs to you, my friend, and know your sis is now FREE!!

  8. Well this is the first time I’ve heard Kay’s story, and it certainly made me cry. Yes, keep telling this story to warn the abused of what may await them. Horrific. My heart goes out to you Kay. I hope her son has recovered from the unbearable shock. Thank you for sharing this painful story.

  9. Kim, I cannot even imagine how horrible this must have been. And still is.
    Thank you for being so open and honest about it.
    I just know there is someone out there whose life you may be saving.
    Have a good weekend, sweet friend.

  10. Every time I read your words, your story, Kay’s story- I learn something new, some detail that I never knew before, some buried treasure revealing more of who she was or who you are- I feel a profound sense of love for you both as you unwrap each layer of tragedy, of memories, of loss. Keep writing, keep reaching, there are more lives to save and you are making a difference, precious Kim. Kay is flying free and with you always- loving you, watching you, praying on your behalf.

  11. I am so very grateful that in the midst of your own never-ending all encompassing pain you reach out to protect others.
    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring. Today and always.

  12. Kim,
    When i read your words about Kay, it always feels like the first time I heard from you that he had killed her. It still feels like a sucker punch to the heart. I am so glad that you continue to write about her – you are keeping her alive so more and more people can get to know her and then mourn with you.
    How I wish I had met her. But this summer, I finally got to meet you and that makes me feel closer to your family. xoxo

  13. I cry every damn time I read Kay’s story. Every single time. Thank you for the work you do. Keep spreading the word. There are so many more out there.

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